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Rebellion J Emancipation , and Reconstruction 

Whate'er they call him — what care I ? 

Aristocrat, Democrat, Autocrat I 
He was one who Ruled but dared not Lie. 

In the hands of one entirely great, 
The pen is mightier than the sword. 



"History Republican Party," "Life of Matthew H. Car- 
penter," "Old Abe," "Eye of the Northwest," "Profit- 
Sharing in America," "Industrial Wisconsin," "Basis for 
International Cooperation," "International Deep Waterways," 
'Reminiscences of General Herman Haupt," etc. 


Akron, Ohio 


New York 1905 Chicago 

Copyright, 1905, 






Prefatory Comment 17 

I.— Mountain Peaks 19 

II.— A Puny Babe — Heroic Surroundings 22 

III. — In Kenyon College 27 

IV. — Work, Law, Slavery 30 

V. — Settles in Cadiz — Marries 32 

VI. — Returns to Steubenville — Active in Politics 36 

VII.— Death of His Idols 38 

VIII. — Great Cases — A Tragedy 42 

IX. — Steubenville Anecdotes and Reminiscences 46 

X. — In Pittsburg — Wheeling Bridge Case 53 

XI. — Other Important Litigation — Meets Lincoln 60 

XII. — Second Marriage — California Land Cases 66 

XIII.— Trial of Daniel E. Sickles 73 

XIV.— A New Home— Election of 1860 79 

XV.— A Seething Caldron 82 

XVI. — A Remarkable Memorandum 88 

XVII.— Gigantic Battle for the Union 96 

XVIII. — Letters to Buchanan — Lincoln Excoriated 105 

XIX. — Resumes the Law — Appointed War Minister 114 

XX.— Work for a Titan 118 

XXL— Opening Intercourse With McClellan 121 

XXII.— An Era-Creating Order 127 

XXIIL— Arbitrary Arrests— General Stone 133 

XXIV.— Succeeds McClellan as General-in-Chief 138 

XXV.— The Famous "Morning Hour" 142 

XXVI.— Approves McClellan's Plans 146 

XXVIL— Captures Norfolk 152 

XXVIIL— The Lofty Dyer Letter 157 

XXIX.— Creates and Fights a Navy 162 

XXX.— A Mutilated Telegram Saves McClellan 166 

XXXI.— McClellan's Threat to Surrender 169 

XXXIL— Great Battle With the Pen— Pope Slaughtered 172 

XXXIII.— An Everlasting Indictment— McClellan Reinstated ... 176 

XXXIV.— Slaves— Stanton the Real Emancipator 182 

XXXV.— McClellan Relieved— Stanton Vindicated 191 

XXXVL— Disappointed in Meade at Gettysburg 198 

XXXVIL— A Thrilling Rescue— Rosecrans Saved 203 

XXXVIII.— Newspaper Hostility— War Diary 208 

XXXIX.— Perfect Autocracy— The Military Telegraph 216 


XL.— Still the Autocrat— Military Railroads 223 

XLL— Prisoners of War— A Heart-Breaking Duty 229 

XLIL— Raising Troops— Fearful Draft Riots 240 

XLIIL— The Fire in the Rear 249 

XLIV. — Hampton Roads Peace Conference 237 

XLV.— The Surrender— A Rescuing Hand 259 

XLVL— Lincoln's Colossal Blunder Rectified 2G9 

XLVn. — Celebrating and Rejoicing 273 

XLVHL — Lincoln Assassinated — Stanton as Acting-President.. 276 

XLIX. — Conspirators Captured and Executed 285 

L. — Grand Review — Sherman's Afifront — Disbandment . . . 288 

LL — Faithful Lieutenants 293 

LIL — Inaugurates Reconstruction — Military Governors .... 296 

LIIL— Parting of the Ways 300 

LIV. — Turmoil — Rescuing Grant 305 

LV. — "Swinging Around the Circle" — Great Letter to Ashley 309 

LVI. — Victorious Over Johnson and His Advisers 315 

LVII. — A Patriotic Conspiracy 320 

LVIIL— A Brief Respite— The McCardle Case 324 

LIX. — Answers the President 328 

LX.— Besieged by the President 331 

LXL — Congress at Stanton's Feet 336 

LXn. — Impeachment Fails — Stanton Retires, out of Funds .. 340 

LXIIL— War Office Secrets and Episodes 345 

LXIV.— Religion as a War Force 371 

LXV. — Grant's Criticisms — Inside History 376 

LXVI. — Heroic Politics — Great Speeches for Grant 391 

LXVII. — 'A Struggling Wreck — Supreme Bench 399 

LXVIIL— Death 408 

LXIX.— Property— Last Will 411 

LXX. — Sidelights — Gleams of Character 414 

LXXL— Storm-Swept 426 




Andrew, Gov. John A 154 

Andrews, Eliphalet F 44 

Anderson, Gen. Robert 100 

Andersonville Prison 232 

Arnold, Samuel 280 

Ashley, James M., M. C 188 

Atzerot, Geo. A 280 

Autograph Letter 356 

Badeau, Gen. Adam 266 

Banks, Gen. N. P 140 

Barlow, Samuel L. M 122 

Barnes, Gen. James K 200 

Batcheller, Capt. Chas W 362 

Bates, D. Homer 220 

Bates, Edward 130 

Beatty, Mrs. Hetty 44 

Bingham, John A., M. C 188 

Black, Jeremiah S., 80 

Blair, Gen. Francis P 158 

Blair, Montgomery 130 

Booth, John Wilkes 274 

Boutwell, Geo. S 338 

Boyce, W. W., M. C 164 

Breckinridge, John C 64 

Bronson, Sherlock A., D. D 374 

Brough, John 244 

Buchanan, Rev. Geo 374 

Buchanan, James 80 

Buchanan, Rev. Joseph 374 

Buchanan, Wm. Stanton 50 

Butler, Gen. B. F 74 


Cameron, Simon 116 

Campbell, Judge John A 108 

Carpenter, Matthew H., U. S. S 206 

Cartter, Judge David K 206 

Cass, Lewis 80 

Castle Thunder 384 

Chalmers, Gen. Joseph W., C. S. A 164 

Chandler, Albert B 212 

Chase, Bishop and Mrs. Philander 36 

Chase, Salmon P 116 

Clemson, Mrs. Margaret W 34 

Cobb, Howell 80 

Cochrane, Gen. John 140 

Collier. Daniel L 34 

Confederate "Quaker" (Wooden) Guns 144 

Corbett, Boston 154 

Corey. James B 363 

Corning. Erastus 294 

Coyle, John Francis 363 

Curtin, Gov. Andrew G •' 294 

Gushing, Caleb 333 


Dana, Chas. A 148 

Davis, Jefferson 86 

Davis, Jefferson, a captive 298 

Dawes, Henry L., M. C 206 

Dawson, Col. N. E 266 

Dennison, William 244 

Dewey, Chauncey 50 

Dickerson. E. N 58 

Dix, Gen. John A 80 

Dixon, James, U. S. S 346 

Douglas, Stephen A 413 

Dyer, Bishop Heman 374 

Early, Gen. Jubal A., C. S. A 164 

Eckert, Gen. Thos. T 213 

Ellet, Col. Chas 100 

Emerson, Ralph 58 

Evarts, William M 323 

Execution of Capt. Henry Wirz 338 

Execution of the Lincoln Conspirators 286 


Fessenden, Wm. Pitt 130 

Filson, Davison 44 

Floyd, John B 64 

Forrest, Gen. Nathan B 164 

Fremont, Gen. John C 140 

Fry, Gen. James B 392 


Garrett, John W 236 

Grand Review, Washington, D. C 290 

Grant, Gen. U. S 262 

Grimes, James W., U. S. S 346 


Halleck. Gen. H. W 158 

Hancock, Gen Winfield S 262 

Hardie, Gen. James A 100 

Harding, Geo 58 

Harper, John . .. 34 

Haupt, Gen. Herman 148 

Henderson, J. B., U. S. S 346 

Herold, David E . . 380 

Hewitt, Abram S 412 

Hill, Gen. D. H .■;;;.■; 144 

Holt, Judge Jos ..'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'.'. 200 

Hooker, Gen. Joseph 386 

Hughes, Archbishop John lOo 

Hunter, Robert M, T 86 


Jackson, Gen. T. J. (Stonewall) 164 

Johnson, Maj. A. E. H 148 

Johnson, President Andrew 310 

Johnson, Reverdy 58 

Johnston, Gen. Joseph E 164 


Kenyon College 28 

King, Horatio 64 

Lamon, Ward H 362 

Lee, Gen. Robert E 194 

Libby Prison 174 

Lieber, Dr. Francis 100 

Lincoln Conspirators 280 

Lincoln, Portrait of 276 

Lincoln's Private Car at City Point, Va 258, 

Lincoln's Visit to McClellan 170 

Logan, John A 338 

Magruder, John B 144 

Managers Johnson's Impeachment Trial 338 

Manny,. John H 58 

Marcy, Gen. Randolph B 386 

Mason, James M 108 

McCallum, D. C 158 

McClellan, Gen. Geo. B 158 

McCook, Geo. W 50 

McCormick, Cyrus H 58 

McCrary, Thos 34 

McCulloch, Ben 86 

McCulloch, Hugh 346 

McFadden, H. S 34 

Meade, Geo. G 158 

Meigs, Gen. Montgomery C 200 

Milligan, L. P 250 

Moorhead, Gen. J. K., M. C 188 

Morton, Oliver P 206 

Mullen, John 44 


O'Brien, Richard 212 

O'Laughlin, Michael 280 

Old Capitol Prison 350 

Ould, Robert 322 

Payne, Lewis 280 

Peppard, S. G 50 

Pierrepont, Edwards 412 

Pillow, Gideon J 144 

Porter, Fitz John 154 

President Buchanan's Cabinet 64-80 

President Lincoln's Cabinet 116-130 

Randall, Alexander W 322 

Reagan, John H 86 

Rosecrans, Gen. Wm. S 386 

Ross, Edmund G., U. S. S 346 

Saxton, Gen. Rufus 74 

Schenck, Gen. Robert C 202 

Schofield, Gen. John M 270 

Scott, Thomas A 226 

Seward, Wm. H 116 

Seymour, Gov. Horatio 294 

Sherman, Gen. Wm. T 266 

Sickles, Gen. Daniel E., 74 

Simpson, Bishop Matthew 374 

Slidell, John 108 

Smith, Caleb B 116 

Somers, L. A 212 

Spangler, Edward 280 

Sparrow, Rev. Wm 28 

Speed, James 130 

Stager, Gen. Anson 2] 2 

Stanbery, Henry 322 

Stanton, Attorney-General 80 

Stanton's Birthplace 24 

Stanton's Cadiz Home , 40 

Stanton's Indictment of McClellan 180 

Stanton's Law Partners 50 

Stanton, Secretary of War 130 

Stanton's Steubenville Home 40 

Stanton's Tomb 420 

Stanton's Washington Home 24 

Steubenville, O., Courthouse 40 

Stevens, Thaddeus 412 

Stone, Gen. C. P 158 

Stuart, Gen. J. E. B 144 

Sumner, Charles, U. S. S 188 

Surratt, John H 274 

Tappan, Benjamin, U. S. S 50 

Taylor, Alfred 44 

Telegraph Corps, U. S. Military 212, 220 

Thomas, Gen. Lorenzo 200 

Thomas, Philip F 64 

Thompson, Jacob 64 

Tinker, Chas. A 220 

Tod, David 244 

Toombs, Robert 108 

Toucey, Isaac 64 

Townsend, Gen. E. D 392 

Trescot, Wm. H .'..'. 206 

Trumbull, Lyman 412 

Tucker, John 136 

Turnbull, James 44 


Umbstaetter, Theobald 50 

Usher, John P 116 


Vallandigham, Clement L., M .C 250 

Vanderbilt, Cornelius 226 

VanVliet, Gen. Stewart 154 

Van Winkle, Peter G., U. S. S 346 

Viele, Gen. Egbert L 100 

Vincent, Gen. Thos. M 392 

Vote on Johnson's Impeachment 340 


War Department Buildings 404 

Watson, Peter H 294 

Weitzel, Gen. Godfrey 386 

Weld, Rev. Theodore D 374 

Welles, Gideon 130 

Whiting, Wm 392 

Wigfall, Louis T 86 

Wilkes, Admiral Charles 154 

Williams, Thos 338 

Wilson, James 338 

Wilson, Wm. Bender 212 

Wood, Fernando, M. C 250 

Wool, Gen. John E 140 


A Life of James Buchanan, as president, ends with the open- 
ing chapter of Secession, and many of the most vital facts in even 
that pregnant movement have been omitted by his biographers. 

A Life of Abraham Lincoln, as president, begins after Seces- 
sion had become so far an accomplished fact as to possess a formal 
government with Jefiferson Davis at its head, and ends before the 
Insurrection had fully subsided, or Reconstruction had been begun. 

A Life of Andrew Johnson, as president, covers the constructive 
portion merely of the turbulent era of Reconstruction. 

A Life of Edwin M. Stanton, however, embraces all of the 
periods named and gives, as by a search-light from within, the only 
story of those prodigious epochs that is not disconnected or frag- 
mentary, or in some feature misleading. 

Since this is true it is exceedingly unfortunate that Mr. Stan- 
ton kept no private letter-books and (purposely, as I believe,) left 
no material for the use of biographers which they cannot find in the 
ofifiicial records or see in his public acts. This peculiarity rendered 
the labor of compiling even a single volume that was planned to 
give a true picture of what he really did, prolonged and difficult. 

Fifty volumes like this would hardly suffice to tell all that 
might be told, but enough that is new has been squeezed into these 
covers to annihilate much that heretofore has been accepted as 
"history" and reverse the positions of many of the foremost actors 
of the century. Every important statement is founded upon in- 
controvertible public records or the testimony of actual witnesses 
of the highest character. 

Personal evidence is given in the language, essentially, in 
which it was communicated. Such information as was not fur- 
nished in writing, but orally, was invariably reduced to manuscript 
and submitted to the givers for revision and approval, and appears 
herein thus revised and approved. 

The Stanton letters, nearly all of which are new to the public, 
were, in the main, contributed in the original by persons to whom 
they were written ; otherwise in the form of copies carefully cor- 
rected by comparison with the originals. 

The story is given in epochs, or is subdivided according to 
momentous subjects, for the express purpose of enabling the reader 
to study Stanton's Desperate Struggle to save the Union under 
Buchanan, the Emancipation and Arming of Slaves, the Autocratic 
Management of Railways and Telegraphs, the unique feature of an 
Independent War-Department Navy, the Exasperating Contest with 
General McClellan, the Exchange of Prisoners of War, the Assassin- 
ation of Lincoln, the Broil with President Andrew Johnson, and 
so on, without being distracted in any instance by the presence of 
matter having no pertinence to the subject immediately in hand. 

I shall be glad to hear from any person who can suggest cor- 
rections or offer new matter. 

Washington, D. C, March, 1905. F. A. F. 



An adequate picture of the mountain never comes from one of 
its own dwellers. His vision is so thoroughly cut off by the great 
crags and crevices among which he is hidden that he is unable to 
measure the height to which its icy peak shoots into the clouds, or 
the extent to which its broadening base stretches down to the sea. 
He cannot consider truly how far its jagged shoulders overtop or 
are flanked and supported by the surrounding hills, nor point out 
how its everlasting walls cause rivers to shift their courses to the 
ocean and, by changing the pathway of advancing storms, create 
alternate droughts and floods in the wide plains below. 

So with a panorama of the Rebellion. It connot be true in 
proportion or color until the limner, by the ripening lapse of time, 
shall have become so far removed from its mighty outlines that he 
can correctly distinguish between little things and big; between 
events which were vital and those which were merely bulky; be- 
tween movements which were decisive and those which were non- 
essential ; between man and man, general and general, plan and 
plan, luck and foresight. 

Already enough of that time has elapsed so that indisputably 
the most majestic ciyil figure observable in the Rebellion horizon 
is that of Edwin McMasters Stanton, Attorney-General in the 
cabinet of James Buchanan and Secretary of War in the cabinets 
of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. 

He was the dominating spirit and power in the quaking Re- 
public during nearly seven of its most tumultuous and eventful 
years. Everybody knew and felt it then — not only the masses but 
courts, executive departments, Congress, the markets, maritime 
operations, disloyal not less than loyal States, and the White House. 

Those of to-day will have the same feeling when they become 
fully cognizant of the facts set forth in the following condensed 
summary of the greatest of Stanton's great achievements: 


1. He established, by the ever-famous Wheeling Bridge Case, 
national sovereignty over all internal navigable waters ; 

2. Settled, by the Pennsylvania State Canal and Railway 
Cases, the right of the people to control all methods of public trans- 
portation ; 

3. Prevented the army of California claimants from looting 
the Pacific coast; 

4. By main strength upset President Buchanan's negotiations 
with the secession "commissioners" and wrecked the well-matured 
plans of the South to peaceably dismember the Union ; 

5. In 1862, as Secretary, caused the War Department to be 
born again ; 

6. Induced Lincoln to assert the supremacy which the con- 
stitution gave to him as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and 

7. Created the prodigious industrial era which made America 
what it is, by canceling all contracts for foreign-made goods and 
prohibiting the purchase of any except home-made articles for 
the military forces; 

8. Inaugurated military promotions for merit; 

9. Flung so-called "neutral" and disloyal employes out of the 
public service; 

10. Smote corrupt contractors, hip and thigh, and relentlessly 
whipped thieves and robbers out of the army ; 

11. Organized the Military Telegraph and Military Railway 
Systems as independent despotisms ; 

12. Suggested a plan to General B. F. Butler to capture New 
Orleans, and it was captured; 

13. Conceived and personally commanded at the capture of 
Norfolk and the blockade of the James River ; 

14. Conceived, created, and sent forward the independent 
navy of thirty-eight rams and mortar boats which cleared the up- 
per Mississippi of insurgent craft and captured and held Memphis; 

15. Conceived the Confiscation Act; 

16. Armed and employed the slaves of rebellious masters to 
save the Union despite the opposition of Lincoln, the cabinet, and 
the officers of the regular army ; 

17. Crowded Lincoln until he was compelled to sign the 
Emancipation Proclamation ; 


18. Rescued the starving Army of the Cumberland at Chat- 
tanooga and saved the Middle West; 

19. Resolutely provided for the safety of Washington and thus 
insured a stable Government to prosecute the war for the Union ; 

20. Adhered to and protected Grant when the clamor was 
furious against him and promoted him continually until he became 
president ; 

21. Conceived the Trumbull amendment of the constitution, 
which wiped out slavery forever ; 

22. Adroitly prevented Lincoln from being snared by the in- 
surgent commissioners at the Hampton Roads "peace conference" ; 

23. Prevented Lincoln and Grant from giving away the fruits 
of victory in the terms of surrender to Lee ; 

24. Prevented the rehabilitation of secession by causing the 
recall of Lincoln's permit to reassemble the insurgent legislature of 
Virginia after the surrender of Lee ; 

25. Prevented the recrudescence of secession on a civil basis 
by annulling the Sherman-Johnston-Davis terms of surrender ; 

26. Acted as President, Secretary of War, Secretary of State, 
Commander-in-Chief of the armies, Chief of Police, Dictator, and 
national muezzin at the murder of Lincoln, and slept not until the 
assassins were captured ; 

27. So put Grant, Meade, and other commanders on record 
under oath and in writing and so preserved the official history of 
the Rebellion that calumny and falsehood were rendered innocuous 
to him forever; 

28. Conceived and successfully began reconstruction along 
the lines finally adopted by Congress and confirmed by the courts ; 

29. Prevented President Johnson from seizing the army and 
bringing on another revolution and then, having saved the country 
from disaster thrice and thrice again, laid down in poverty, worn 
out, and died. 


At Steubenville, Ohio, on Monday, December 19, 1814 — a day- 
turbulent, chilly, and full of driving snow — the first child was 
born to Dr. David and Lucy Norman Stanton, and, in honor of Mrs., 
Stanton's god-father (the Reverend David McMasters), was named 
Edwin McMasters Stanton. It was a small and puny babe, too 
weak to suckle, and, the mother's life being in danger, was trans- 
ferred through the drifting snows to her own home by Mrs. Warner 

For three years the babe continued to be scrawny and blood- 
less. His stunted stature and sickly organization, contrasting 
strangely with the robust physiques of his ancestors, seemed, how- 
ever, to add to the brightness of his unusually mature mind. 

At four he was more rugged ; at seven he began attending a 
private school ; at eight he was transferred to a seminary conducted 
by Henry Orr, in the rear of his father's residence ; at ten, having 
made good progress, he was admitted to the Reverend George Bu- 
chanan's Latin school, where he learned Latin, Greek, history, and 
some of the higher branches. The father took great interest in his 
son's education, assisting him to collect a museum of insects, frogs, 
small animals, birds, etc. 

"While gathering his natural-history museum, Eddie Stanton 
learned to train snakes," says Lewis Anderson of Steubenville. "In 
fact, he became a snake-charmer. Once, when he came into our 
house with a couple of long snakes wound around his arms and 
neck, mother screamed and the children fled. Father rushed in 
and hustled Ed and his horrible snakes into the street. Ed's father 
wished him to become a physician, and articulated a human skele- 
ton and hung it in the barn back of the house for him to study, 
Ed gave lectures on this skeleton which I attended. He put a 
lighted candle inside of the skull and gave some of us the horrors. 
He also gave lectures on God, the Bible, Moses, and the Flood in 


the same stable. He was of a religious turn of mind, a good talker, 
and very earnest and emphatic." 

"He was always a MAN," says the Reverend Joseph Buchanan, 
"always aimed at something high and never spent an idle moment. 
He was not only a good student, but a good talker, and from boxes 
and barrels in his father's stable displayed his eloquence to his 

At the age of ten he was a member of Mrs. Hetty Beatty's 
Bible class, and attended Methodist church services regularly. On 
January 27, 1827, when barely twelve, he joined the church on pro- 
bation. On December 24, 1827, having stood the probationary tests, 
he confessed Christ and became a "full member" of the church. 
"He was frank and manly, and impressed all as being sincere," 
says Mrs. E. H. McCarty of Steubenville. "He did not hang his 
head and hesitate, but rose promptly to give his confession." 

Edwin was thirteen and an advanced pupil, when, on December 
30, 1827, his father startled the village by dropping dead of apoplexy 
on the threshold of his residence. The blow fell heavily upon Lucy 
Stanton. There was considerable money due from her husband's pa- 
tients, which at first she believed to be collectable ; but, being un- 
able to realize much on these accounts, she added groceries, books, 
and stationery to the stock of medicines left to her, and opened a 
general store* in the front room of her residence. 

Edwin continued his studies, assisted his mother in the shop, 
cared for the family cow, and made himself generally useful. Early 
in the summer of 1828, James Turnbull gave him a place in his 
large, prosperous and well-conducted book-store and publishing 
house, at fifty dollars for the first, seventy-five dollars for the 
second and one hundred dollars for the third year, with the privi- 
lege of continuing to study the languages under the Reverend Mr. 

"Mr. Turnbull never took but one exception to him as an em- 

*"My sister Lucy opened a shop more in pride than necessity," says 
Mrs. J. C. Duerson of Washington. "We at home in Culpepper, Virginia, 
were not aware at the time that she was keeping store. Father was 
wealthy and sent money to her after her husband's death, and would have 
sent more very gladly if she had disclosed that she needed it. He not only 
forwarded money, but wished to send slaves to do her work and care for 
the children; but, of course, that seemed to be forbidden by the law of Ohio. 
After father died, in 1838, Sister Lucy neither received nor needed aid, for 
Edwin had begun to earn substantially and to look after his mother." 


ploye," said Captain J. F. Oliver, Mr. Turnbull's son-in-law. "When 
customers came into the store he was often so absorbed in his book 
that he did not attend to them very promptly. He consumed every 
book in the store." 

His duties were numerous. Besides handling and selling books 
and stationery, he bought rags and stock for the local paper mill, 
assisted in the publishing and subscription branches, and dealt par- 
ticularly with surrounding school officers in educational supplies. 
This experience was valuable, for Mr. Turnbull was an exacting and 
successful business man. 

During his apprenticeship he organized a circulating library for 
the use of which he charged a fee of ten cents per term per person. 
"It was quite a pretentious collection, and was patronized as much 
by adults as young people," says James Gallagher of Steubenville. 

"I remember Edwin's circulating library well," says John 
Harper, president of the Bank of Pittsburg, who resided in Steu- 
benville until 1830, "for I secured such books therefrom as my 
young friend recommended. He was fond of reading poetry and 
the Bible, and was familiar with Shakespeare." 

He was particularly attracted by Montgomery's hymns and 
poetry and the story of his imprisonment, frequently reading "Peli- 
can Island" and "The World Before the Flood" aloud to his friends 
with much elocutionary power. 

During his apprenticeship Stanton contributed to the support 
of his mother, brother, and sisters ; he was a member and for one 
term president of "The Polemics," a local debating society ; a faith- 
ful communicant of the Methodist Church, and a regular attend- 
ant at Sunday school. 

His first sweetheart, the now venerable Mrs. Clemson of Xenia, 
Ohio, who, as Miss Margaret Hoagland, resided in Steubenville 
until 1836, says: 

I shall never forget Edwin M. Stanton. He was the handsomest and 
smartest boy in Steubenville, having such bright black eyes. We were 
together a great deal, so much so that — who will not pardon a woman of 
80 for admitting it? — it was predicted by many that some time we would 
be married. No party or gathering of young people was complete without 
him. He was always pleasant, agreeable, and full of life and fun, and always 
ready to escort the girls. However, he loved books better than either par- 
ties or girls. His habits were excellent — studious, ambitious, industrious, and 
sober. He was upright and truthful, too, and very attentive to his mother 
and sisters. He attended church regularly. I never knew a smarter boy 
or one ■syith a nobler heart and better principles. 

Stanton's Home, 
Washington, U. C. 


The influences that had surrounded Stanton up to this time 
were potential in character-molding. His mother, a well-educated 
school-teacher, a Virginian, was a devout Methodist; his father, a 
native of Beaufort, North Carolina, had been a polemical Quaker; 
his tutor was a strong-minded and vigorous Presbyterian of great 
learning, and he himself a spirited actor in church and Sunday 
school. At quarterly meetings his father's house was crowded 
with Methodist preachers and elders, and at all times it was the 
resting place of religious itinerants of every denomination — es- 
pecially Hicksite Quakers, 

But, while the atmosphere of religious kindness and generous 
hospitality pervaded the home, inveighing against slavery was the 
dominant theme. Dr, Stanton was not only an abolitionist but 
urged that native medical herbs be planted and native medical sup- 
plies be used in place of those from slave sections, so that "love 
of liberty and our American practise may be coincident," 

In January, 1821, Benjamin Lundy, who received his first les- 
sons in abolitionism from Dr, Stanton while in school at Wheeling, 
established his Genius of Universal Emancipation at Mt, Pleasant, 
Ohio, Dr. Stanton became his agent, correspondent, and sales- 
man, pushing the interests of this first anti-slavery publication with 
vigor, Lundy was a saddler working at Wheeling and Mt. Pleas- 
ant. It was his habit to take the MS. for an issue of his paper to 
Steubenville, and, putting up with Dr. Stanton while the type was 
being set, earn enough money in the local saddlery to defray the 
expense of the edition. After the Genius was thought to be on its 
feet, Lundy frequently sent the MS. for its issues to Dr. Stanton, 
who procured the printing and read the proof. Then, if the com- 
pleted edition could not be sent by a friend, or there was no cash 
available with which to defray carriage by stage, he tied the package 
on his back and "toted" it about twenty miles through gullies and 
over hills to Mt. Pleasant, James Gallagher, also a saddler, who 
was intimate with both, says: "Dr. Stanton furnished more cash 
and credit than Lundy for the Genius. Outside of his love for his 
profession, the Doctor's strongest trait was hatred of slavery," 

William Thaw of Pittsburg, president of the Pennsylvania 
Company, says : "Edwin M. Stanton told me when he was a boy 
his father had — like the father of Hannibal against Rome — made 
him swear eternal hostility to slavery, and the vow would be bind- 
ing to his last day," 


This vow was taken while his father and mother, both natives 
of slave States, were actively aiding and protecting the slaves that 
constantly escaped from Virginia, whose bold hills were in full 
view from their house immediately across the Ohio River. 

What atmosphere could breathe more purely the spirit of civil 
and religious liberty and of fearless adherence to principle than 
that in which Edwin M. Stanton passed his childhood? 

Dr. David Stanton taught abolitionism to Benjamin Lundy 
and helped him to establish, if he did not suggest, the first emanci- 
pation paper in the United States ; and his son Edwin M. and not 
Abraham Lincoln, as we shall see further along in this volume, was 
the real author of the great act of final emancipation. 


During his apprenticeship to Mr. Turnbull, Stanton pursued 
his studies tenaciously; but, not liking the calling of physician, for 
which his father had designed him, he demanded a college educa- 
tion before finally deciding on a profession. Therefore, Guardian 
Collier being willing to advance the necessary funds and Mr. Turn- 
bull to cancel the apprenticeship, he left by stage, in April, 1831, for 
Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio, then under the personal direc- 
tion of Bishop Philander Chase and known as "The Star in the 
West." At Wooster he was detained two days by an attack of 
asthma,* from which, after his tenth year, he was never free. 

Choosing an "irregular course" which permitted him to select 
his own studies, he fell to work with vigor and enthusiasm. The 
college was located in the unbroken forest. In winter the rising 
bell rang at 5 o'clock and the first recitation was held twenty min- 
utes later. In summer the first bell rang before sunrise, and the 
second at sunrise, for prayers. At 9 o'clock in the evening all 
lights had to be out and all students in bed. The boys were re- 
quired "to sweep their own rooms, make their own beds and fires, 
bring in their own water, and take an occasional turn at grubbing in 
the fields, or working on the roads." 

Stanton at once joined the Philomathesian Literary Society, 
early becoming prominent in its exercises and deliberations, and 
donating its first record book, on the cover of which the inscription 
is yet plain: "Presented by E. M. Stanton." About this time the 
prevailing State-rights and nullification controversy invaded the 
Philomathesian Society. Those who adhered to John C. Calhoun's 
theory that a State is greater than the United States, which Stanton 

♦Mrs. J. C. Duerson of Washington, D. C, his mother's sister, says: 
"Edwin inherited a predisposition or tendency to asthma. His grandfather, 
Thomas Norman, was afflicted with asthmatic convulsions for more than 
sixty years and the symptoms of the two cases were similar." 


combated with vehemence, resigned and founded a new association. 
Stanton was elected secretary of the reorganized Philomathesians 
and served on several committees and appeared on one side or the 
other of nearly every debate until he left Gambler. 

One of the noted incidents in Kenyon history is his escapade 
with Bishop Chase's fine horse "Cincinnatus." He was consider- 
ably smitten with a lively and beautiful Miss Douglass, who lived 
in a log cabin in the forest some miles distant from the college. 
Desiring, one boisterous night, to visit her and her sisters, Stanton 
and a companion together rode Cincinnatus out to the Douglass 
home and back through deep, fatiguing roads. When, on the fol- 
lowing morning, the Bishop found his good horse exhausted and 
spattered with mud, his wrath knew no bounds. The offenders 
were discovered, and the matter was brought before the faculty. 
The Bishop would listen to nothing in extenuation, so Dr. Heman 
Dyer, one of the faculty, advised Stanton to confess and ask for- 

"I'll do it," was the reply. "Now," says Dr. Dyer, "Stanton 
was a fellow of good heart, and full of feeling. He went to the 
Bishop, made a clean breast of it, acknowledged his error, and 
asked forgiveness. The Bishop's wrath was soon gone. His big 
heart was touched. He spoke to Stanton tenderly of his widowed 
mother and of the life that was before him, and before long both 
were in tears and parted good friends." 

"One day Stanton was minded to have some potatoes on his 
own hook," says the Reverend S. A. Bronson of Mansfield, Ohio. "A 
professor saw him and called out: 'Stanton, those potatoes belong 
to the College.' 'So do I,' answered Stanton, digging away, which, 
I believe, settled the matter." 

In August, 1832, his guardian, D. L. Collier, wrote to Stanton 
that it "seemed necessary to suspend the college course for perhaps 
a year or two in order to earn something to improve the financial 
situation at home." Therefore, on September 7, 1832, he left Ken- 
yon, as he supposed, for "a year or two," but, as fate willed, forever. 

Some of the controlling influences and most enduring friend- 
ships of his life, however, came from Kenyon. There the doctrines 
of the Episcopal Church, in which he died, took root; there he sent 
his son Edwin L. who, in 1863, graduated with the highest honors 
hi the history of the institution ; thither he often returned with af- 
fectionate interest, and from its graduates and tutors he chose some 


of the most confidential and trusted advisers of his later career. 

When he left, he had finished history, mathematics, chemistry, 
political economy, geology, Latin, and the third year of Greek ; and 
would have graduated on the highest level at the end of another 
session, if he could have remained. 


Mrs. Stanton had been obliged to close her store for want of 
capital, and was very poor. Guardian Collier could make no further 
advances and, James Turnbull offering to reengage him, Stanton left 
by stage within a week of his return from college to take charge of a 
large book and stationery branch at Columbus, the State capital, at 
two hundred and fifty dollars per year and sleeping quarters in the 
store. Mr. Turnbull was precise and severe, and the trust he placed 
ir. Stanton is proof of the boy's excellent character and capacity. 

His time during the following year was fully occupied with 
bookkeeping, collections, and remittances. He attended Trinity 
Episcopal Church, listened to the debates of the State legislature 
when possible, and read such law books as the shelves of his store 

In 1833 the cholera swept over Ohio. On a certain day at 2 
o'clock Miss Anna Howard, daughter of a "steam doctor" with 
whom he had a home, served Stanton with dinner. On returning for 
tea he learned that she was dead and buried. Cholera, like light- 
ning, had struck her down. He could not believe she was dead. Re- 
questing two young friends to assist him, he proceeded to her 
grave, and, with his life in his hands, exhumed and opened the 
casket in order to be sure that she had not suffered the awful 
agony of burial alive. A. H. Smythe of Columbus, Ohio, says the 
heroic courage thus displayed in the midst of the universal panic 
was recognized and commented upon at the time; also that Stanton 
had a high standing in Columbus, although not yet twenty years 
of age. 

At the end of his year Stanton wrote to his guardian that he 
wished to study law and would like to remain in Columbus. He had 
made the acquaintance of Mary A. Lamson, an orphan residing with 
her brother-in-law, the Reverend William Preston ; indeed, he had 
fallen deeply in love with her and had already discussed betrothal. 


Hence his desire to remain in Columbus. Guardian Collier advised 
a return to Steubenville to study law. "You may have a home in 
my house, and pursue your studies in my office," said he. Returning 
in October, 1833, Stanton devoted himself v^^ith energy to his studies, 
teaching a Sunday School class in the Protestant Methodist church, 
attending caucuses and political meetings, arranging and participat- 
ing in moot-courts, and leading in a library organization called the 
Lyceum, but giving no time to hunting, fishing, sport, or recreation. 

In 1834, Theodore D. Weld, the intrepid Massachusetts re- 
former, lectured in Steubenville on slavery. "At my last lecture," 
says Mr. Weld, "young Stanton sat in a front seat facing the pulpit. 
I said at the end : 'Friends, will all of you who believe it the duty of 
the people of the slave States to abolish slavery at once, please rise 
to your feet?' Stanton sprang to his feet and turned to the audience 
with uplifted hands, which rose in a body in response to his lead." 

While pursuing his studies, Stanton attended to the collections, 
accounts, and small business of Mr. Collier's office, and frequently 
appeared in court to assist in citations, take down testimony, and 
care for books and papers. Having made good progress (although 
seriously affiicted at intervals with asthma), he went to St. Clairs- 
ville in August, 1835, to be examined for admission to the Ohio bar, 
and passed with honor. 

Although not yet twenty-one he jumped into active practise 
under the patronage of his preceptor and guardian, D. L. Collier. 
His first appearance in court is thus described by John McCracken 
of Steubenville: 

Sometime in the early autumn of 1835, I saw Stanton going into court 
with a bundle of books and papers and followed him. A suit for slander 
was on, and young Stanton was handling one side of it, with D. L. Collier 
sitting in the rear, watching him. He was wooling into the trial like every- 
thing, when one of the attorneys on the other side asked the Court to order 
him out of the case for being under age and not entitled or fit to practise. 
Instantly Mr. Collier arose and exclaimed: "Your Honor, this young man is 
as well qualified to practise law as myself or any other attorney of this 
bar; he has passed the examination; he is the son of a poor widow and 
should be allowed to go on." Even then Stanton had cheek. He remained 
standing while Collier was making this speech, and pitched right m again 
the instant his guardian sat down, without waiting for a ruling by the Court. 
The judge gazed at him quizzically, but said nothing. 


On January 1, 1836, twelve days after he became twenty-one, 
Stanton removed to Cadiz, a village of one thousand inhabitants, the 
seat of Harrison County, and entered into partnership with Chaun- 
cey Dewey, an attorney with an established reputation, extended 
practise, and large wealth. 

For some years Dewey and Stanton were engaged on one side 
or the other of nearly every suit brought in the county, and had an 
extensive practise in the surrounding counties of Columbiana, Bel- 
mont, Tuscarawas, Carroll, and Jefferson. In 1836, out of funds 
earned in the Shotwell suits brought by him against the Farmers' 
and Mechanics' Bank of Steubenville, Stanton contributed to the ex- 
pense of a course in medicine and surgery for his brother Darwin 
at Harvard University. 

During the autumn he purchased a house in Cadiz and in De- 
cember proceeded to Columbus — twenty miles of the distance on 
foot — to claim his bride (Mary A., orphan daughter of William K. 
Lamson) who for more than three years had been patiently and af- 
fectionately waiting for him. The marriage ceremony occurred in 
the house of the officiating clergyman, the Reverend William Pres- 
ton, husband of the bride's sister, on Friday, December 31, 1836. 
The "bridal tour" consisted of a ride on a stage sleigh from Colum- 
bus to Cadiz, a distance of one hundred and twenty-five miles, over 
i-ough roads and through a sparsely settled country — "the brightest, 
sweetest journey of all my life," said Stanton years afterward. A 
cozy little home, handsomely situated on a knoll in the outskirts of 
the village and surrounded by trees, was partially furnished for the 
bride on her arrival in Cadiz. 

The marriage was indeed happy. Stanton did not love, he wor- 
shipped. He adored as much with his head as his heart. Rugged and 
intense, sentiment and afifection with him were fused into a glow- 
ing and absorbing passion which could not be divided or restrained. 


Existence itself was wrapped up in the object of his adoration. He 
could not have more than one idol, and for that idol his soul was 
immeasurable, and in his heart "beyond the deepest deep was still 
another deep." 

Both were poor, but Miss Lamson had been carefully edu- 
cated and her manners were gentle and refined. Her heart was 
full and sympathetic and in it Stanton's aggressive nature found a 
delightful refuge, his impetuous ardor a sweet and tender response. 

"I recall Mary A. Lamson as a retiring, refined, and delicate 
young woman, of lovable and Christian character," said Mrs. Anne 
E. Dennison, wife of the famous war governor of Ohio, "Mr. Stan- 
ton loved her passionately and cherished her memory to the end of 
his life. We bought the house that Reverend Mr. Preston built in 
Columbus, and lived in it ; and when my daughter was married to 
General J. W. Forsythe, in 1867, Mr. Stanton led me under the chan- 
deliers and said with deep feeling: 'Here is where Mary and I stood 
to be married.' In Washington he always treated me with the ut- 
most kindness and consideration, connecting me fondly with the 
home of his Mary." 

Immediately after establishing himself in Cadiz, Stanton be- 
came very active in politics. During the campaign of 1837 he was 
elected prosecuting attorney on the Democratic ticket. He made 
a personal canvass of the towns, frequently accompanied by his 
wife and by a novel system of organization overturned the Whig 
m.ajority, a fact that, before the election, was not supposed to be 
possible. The salary of the ofifice was only two hundred dollars per 
year, but he must have been making money in his profession, for in 
addition to his home in the village, he purchased a tract of eighty 
acres in Washington township, and acquired also several town lots. 

Although his business was large in Cadiz, the matters involved 
were small compared to those growing out of the extensive manu- 
facturing, banking, and commercial interests developing along the 
Ohio River, and at the end of three years he decided to return to 
Steubenville, Before following him there, however, some personal 
reminiscences by survivors who knew him in Cadiz will be inter- 
esting. Thomas McCrary says: 

I lived with Ed Stanton from August, 1837, till March, 1838. He was 
one of the kindest and most affectionate of men. I had many talks with 
him after his wife died, and he could never speak of her without weeping. 

Stanton's brother Darwin came occasionally to Cadiz and I went out 


hunting with him. Ed never hunted an hour in his life. He worked all 
the time, worked terribly. He invariably carried, in a beautiful sheath on 
the inside of his vest, a fine dagger, seven inches in length. As he gave no 
time, not a moment, to personal controversies, and was never abroad ex- 
cept on business, I never decided why he carried such a dreadful weapon. 
His habits were temperate. 

Don't remember that he attended church, though he was religiously in- 
clined; had no amusements. Never heard him sing a note or knew him to 
give a moment to gaiety. He was very active in politics, and strong 
anti-slavery, although in the Democratic party. His speeches against 
slavery were masterpieces. His style of speech-making and addressing 
a jury was forcible and aggressive and sometimes very eloquent. He dealt 
in facts. By some he was called gruff and severe to witnesses, especially 
if they were inclined to be crooked or sullen. I recollect that in the case 
of a man by the name of Thomas, on trial for murder, Stanton showed him- 
self better posted in anatomy than the doctors. He had many a spat with 
the Court, and time and again I have heard Judge Kennon command him 
to sit down. He always obeyed, but was up the next minute and at it 
again, and generally gained his point, too. 

He smoked occasionally, but not often. He was careful of his money, 
but did not charge high fees. In fact, he did much work for which he 
received no pay at all. He was always on the side of the helpless and 
did his greatest fighting in their behalf. I recollect an imbecile, a girl, to 
whom was willed for her support a piece of timbered land. Stanton, 
in 1838, negotiated a ninety-nine year lease of the land. Had any other 
course been adopted, the property would have been dissipated and the 
poor girl left helpless. 

Judge A. C. Turner of Columbus, Nebraska, an attorney at 
Cadiz in Stanton's time, writes: 

When Mr. Stanton was employed to defend a man who had adminis- 
tered to a person poison that finally caused death, he swallowed some of 
the drug in order to test the effect on himself. The consequences were 
severe, but the whites of eggs and other antidotes brought him out whole, 
and he saved the man's neck. To him there was nothing impossible in 
courage or acts to accomplish his purpose. 

H, S. McFadden of the Harrison National Bank at Cadiz, hav- 
ing had the poison incident referred to him, replied : 

The poison was taken by Stanton in a room at Lacey's Hotel on the 
night before the trial, in the presence of Sheriff Cady,* a reliable man. The 

*J. Cady, writing from Beatrice, Nebraska, says: "My father, William 
Cady, the sheriff referred to, is dead, but my mother, now over 80, recol- 
lects the poison incident and says Stanton was capable of just such a 
blood-curdling episode if he considered it necessary to win for his client." 

H. S. McFadden. 

Thomas McCrary. 


case was tried in this town. Stanton had studied anatomy thoroughly, and, 
having tried poison on himself, appeared to know more than all the. doc- 
tors. He made them out to be complete ignoramuses in the eyes of the 
jury, contradicting each other, especially as to the effects of poison on 
the human system. The jury, in consequence of Stanton's able defense, 
brought in a verdict of murder in the second degree, although the indict- 
ment was for murder in the first degree. Judge Kennon let it stand. 

General Thomas M. Vincent, U. S. A., of Washington, D. C, 
who was born at Cadiz and knew Stanton all his life, says : 

In Mr. Stanton's earliest practise he was a marked and attractive man 
and an antagonist of great power. I have often seen him emerge from the 
court-room with his collar broken down and linen wet with perspiration from 
the effort he had put forth for his client. He invariably exhausted every 
power he possessed to win. He was an honorable man of high standing 
from the first, and faithful to all trusts under every circumstance. 

William G. Finney of Washington, D. C., who knew Stanton 
when he first began practising law in Cadiz, says : 

The first time I was drawn to serve on a jury at Cadiz, Stanton was 
one of the attorneys in the case. He wore spectacles (being near-sighted) 
and a full beard on the chin and cheeks then as he did throughout his 
after life. He feared nothing. If he thought he was right, nothing could 
swerve him from his course. In those times he drew the very life out of 
adverse witnesses. In fact it was impossible, after his character became 
known, to get weak or crooked witnesses to take the stand against him. 
Once a witness became angry at his cross examination. "I am simply seek- 
ing to draw out the truth," said he, "and I hope you will not be offended 
if I succeed." He had no time for trivial matters. While others were trig- 
ging . out and grooming their hair and persons, he was charging his 
mind with knowledge and power. 


In October, 1838, Stanton formed a partnership with Benjamin 
Tappan of Steubenville, a man of ability and wealth, who in the fol- 
lowing December was elected to the United States Senate. He was 
thus compelled to remove to Steubenville, although continuing his 
partnership with Dewey at Cadiz, He became a Mason ; put his 
peculiar notions of political organization into effect and made "clean 
sweeps" in Jefiferson as he had in Harrison County ; represented 
his district in the Democratic State convention and was selected 
as a delegate to the Baltimore presidential convention of May 5, 
1840. In the famous Log-Cabin Campaign of that year he was 
supreme in southeastern Ohio. 

At an enormous tri-State mass meeting of Whigs and Demo- 
crats at Steubenville in July, his methods so exasperated the 
former that a serious riot was precipitated. The Democratic policy 
was anti-bank." Stanton held for collection more than fifty thou- 
sand dollars of the "over-issue" of the wrecked Bank of Steubenville, 
whose officers were Whigs. Before the great Whig procession 
passed his office he set out in front of it a large tombstone on which 
he had pasted the worthless bills of the defunct bank. This was too 
much for the Whigs, who angrily turned their procession toward the 
Democratic grand stand where Stanton was speaking and brought 
on a terrific riot. Stanton himself was not injured, but others were 
and the Whigs held him responsible for the bloody emeute. 

The Democrats were defeated in November, and Stanton, hav- 
ing made a fine reputation, dropped political activity and concen- 
trated his energies on his profession. He admitted several bright 
young students to his office, and accepted business from every di- 
rection. The court calendars were crowded with his cases, news- 
papers teemed with his legal notices, and he was compelled to work 
almost night and day, Sundays included, to take care of his clients. 

During 1840 the first babe, christened Lucy Lamson Stanton, 
made its appearance in the Stanton home. Lucy was the apple 

Bishop and Mrs. Philander Chase. 


of her father's eye. Years afterward he said the "happiest hours 
of his life were passed in the little brick house on Third Street, hold- 
ing Lucy on his knee while Mary prepared the meals," 

During the year 1841 he astonished the profession by clearing 
John Gaddis, who was charged with uxorcide. Mrs. Gaddis was 
found mortally wounded from the blows of a jagged brick. Al- 
though horribly mangled, she is said to have rallied sufficiently to say 
that the wounds were made by her husband. Gaddis employed Stan- 
ton to defend him. Having no money he contracted to deed over his 
home in lieu of a cash fee. The trial came on and, greatly to the sur- 
prise of the community, resulted in acquittal. Having regained his 
freedom, Gaddis demurred to the terms made for his defense, observ- 
ing that he might as well have been hanged as "deprived of his prop- 
erty and left to starve." "You deserve to starve, since I have saved 
you from hanging, for you are guilty," retorted Stanton, and re- 
tained the property, which he sold for five hundred dollars. 

In December, 1841, he was elected delegate to the Democratic 
State convention to be held at Columbus on January 7, 1842, and 
attended, serving on the committee on platform and to prepare an 
"address to the people," writing the resolution on banks.* 

On March 7, 1842, the legislature of Ohio elected him to be 
"Reporter for the supreme court in banc for the term of three years," 
and, with the help of his students, he reported and edited volumes 
XL, Xn., and XHL ; compensation three hundred dollars per annum. 

In April, 1842, although a Democrat, he went over into Virginia 
to aid his brother Darwin to secure the nomination for the House 
cf Delegates on the Whig ticket; also took part in the campaign 
which resulted in his brother's election in a district which was 
Democratic. The next spring Darwin was the Democratic nominee 
for the same office, and with his brother's help was elected. 

To Stanton, blood was thicker than politics, if not thicker than 

♦Resolved, That the true policy of the United States is to collect 
no revenue whatsoever beyond the sum actually necessary to conduct, upon 
principles of strict economy, the legitimate concerns of the general Gov- 
ernment; that this collection shall be made no further than the public 
welfare demands, and, when collected, the money shall remain in the Treas- 
ury without being loaned, speculated upon, used or employed in banking, 
until paid to the public creditors. We, therefore, regard the repeal of the 
Act establishing an Independent Treasury, as an error in principle which 
should be disapproved by all parties. 


In the meantime Stanton had received his first taste of real sor- 
row in the death of his darling Lucy. "My friend Stanton," says W. 
S. Buchanan,* "idoHzed Lucy. After she had been buried about a 
year he exhumed the tiny remains, placed the ashes in a metal box 
made for the purpose, and had a brazier (Samuel Wilson of Steu- 
benville) solder it up. This precious box he kept in his own room ; 
but when his wife died a year later, it was buried by her side — both 
in the same grave." 

August 11, 1842, brought a son — a bright, healthy, and active 
child, which was christened Edwin Lamson Stanton, and again Stan- 
ton was happy. 

For the third time in succession he represented his district in 
the Democratic State convention, which met at Columbus on Jan- 
uary 8, 1844, to open the presidential campaign. He was again 
a member of the committee on platform and "address to the peo- 
ple," and on the committee to select presidential electors and dele- 
gates to the national convention. 

Being present solely in the interest of Martin Van Buren, the 
personal friend of his partner (Judge Tappan), he subordinated 
everything to securing "sure" Van Buren delegates to the national 
convention, and succeeded. He drafted the resolution on banksf 

*First a student and then a partner in Stanton's office. 

tRESOLVED, That the power to incorporate a bank is not one of the 
powers granted to the Federal Government by the constitution; that such 
an institution is neither "necessary" nor "proper," within the meaning of the 
constitution, to carry into effect any powers granted, nor is it incidental to 
any of them; that it was the design of the framers of the constitution to cre- 
ate a Government which should avoid the evils of a system of Govern- 
ment paper money, by denying it the right to create a paper currency; that 
we regard the chartering of a bank by Congress not only as a direct as- 
sumption of power not authorized by the constitution, but as an infringe- 


and that on the tariff, but did not participate in composing the "ad- 
dress to the people," which, Hke previous Ohio Democratic enuncia- 
tions, declared practically for free trade, and which, he said, was 
"absurd and a tendency toward direct taxation, and direct taxation 
would break any party bringing it about." 

By far the sorest affliction of his life came a few weeks later 
in the sudden death in child-birth of his wife Mary, on March 13, 
1844. He had sold his dwelling on Third Street and leased for a 
long term of years and moved into the largest and finest house in 
the city — the new Andrews residence. He had an increasing 
business, an expanding reputation, and great prosperity, and was 
full of life and hope. 

"Although not thirty when Mary died, Stanton was king of 
Steubenville," says the Reverend Joseph Buchanan ; "acknowledged 
to have the best and most lucrative practise in the locality. Being 
thus buoyant and satisfied, the death of his wife seemed particularly 
unexpected and hard to bear. In fact it rendered him thoroughly 
irresponsible. He threw her wedding rings and other jewels into 
the coffin and wanted her letters buried with her, too. My mother 
removed them repeatedly, only to find them again returned to the 
casket. She was unable to pacify him, and it was only by exercising 
good judgment that she finally prevented the burial of Mary's valu- 
able rings and trinkets." 

Ann Elliot, a seamstress, made Mrs. Stanton's grave clothes, 
and was compelled to alter the garments several times to suit 
Stanton. "He wanted his wife to look," said Miss Elliot, "when 
dressed for the grave, just as she did seven years before at the mar- 
riage altar. 'She is my bride and shall be dressed and buried 
like a bride,' said he, as he sat by her side moaning and weeping." 

"I can hardly speak adequately of the death of Mary," says Wil- 
liam Stanton Buchanan, "which occurred two days before the 
meeting of the March term of the supreme court. As Stanton was 
engaged in every case, no court was held in Jefferson County for 
that term. He could not work and could not be consoled. He 
walked the floor incessantly, crying and moaning. At night he 
placed her night-cap and gown on his pillow and cried and cried for 
his dear Mary. After her burial he himself put white stones around 

ment on the right of the States, dangerous to the just independence and 
integrity of the Government, and fraught with perils to the rights and liber- 
ties of the people. 


the grave, and visited it every morning early to see if a single one 
had been removed and also to place flowers upon his beloved one's 
breast. He not only did this, but for some days sent his gardener, 
Alfred Taylor, to guard like a soldier the resting-place of his idol- 
ized wife." 

"For years, when at home, Stanton went regularly twice a 
week to decorate Mary's grave, and," says Alfred Taylor, "on Sun- 
days went alone to meet her." At the head of her grave he planted 
a sprig of weeping willow which a friend brought from Napoleon's 
burial place on St. Helena.* 

Mary's death wrought a complete change in his manner and 
thought. "Where formerly he met everybody with hearty and 
cheerful greeting," says Mrs. Davison Filson of Steubenville, "he 
now moved about in silence and gloom, with head bowed and hands 
clasped behind." He kept aloof from public and social gatherings, 
but gave enlarged attention to religious matters. 

Before her death, when mounting his carriage on Sunday to 
drive to Cadiz, Carrollton, or New Lisbon, in order to be present at 
the opening of court on Monday morning, Mary generally slipped 
a letter into his hand to be opened and read on the road, containing 
besides her expressions of regard and affection, gentle but earnest 
arguments and protests against traveling to court on the Sabbath 
Day. He really wanted to please her, but was more than full of 
business — earning money for her, as he explained by way of justi- 
fication — and felt compelled to travel on Sunday when it was 
necessary to appear in court away from home on Monday morning. 
After Mary's death these letters produced a strong effect on Stan- 
ton, which lasted, in a modified degree, to the end of his life. 

History aiifords no example of more passionate and lasting mari- 
tal affection. Stanton and his wife were totally unlike, yet they 
lived wholly for each other ; and if the husband transgressed at all, 
it was "for Mary." He worshipped her till the day of his death, 
shortly before which, the last time he was in Steubenville (Septem- 
ber, 1868), he spent an evening hour alone at her grave. He was 
like Burns, who married and reared a family but never ceased to 

'"On a lone, barren isle, where the wide-rolling billow 
Assails the stern rocks and the loud tempests rave, 

A hero lies still, whilst a low-drooping willow, 

Like some fond, weeping mourner, leans over his grave.' 


mourn for his Highland Mary, taken from him in his youth: 

Still o'er those scenes my mem'ry wakes, 
And fondly broods with miser care! 

Time but th' impression stronger makes. 
As streams their channels deeper wear. 


Martin Van Buren, his favorite candidate, having been de- 
feated in convention by James K. Polk, and being in deep distress 
over the death of his wife, Stanton took Httle part in the presidential 
campaign of 1844; he simply buried himself in the law. The follow- 
ing year was also devoted exclusively to his clients. The partner- 
ship between Tappan and Stanton was succeeded by that of Stan- 
ton and McCook; and there were Stanton and Peppard at Cadiz; 
Umbstaetter, Stanton, and Wallace at New Lisbon ; special partners 
at other points, like Daniel Peck at St. Clairsville, E. R. Eckley at 
Carrollton, Joseph ("Percent.") Sharon in Harrison, Judge Charles 
Shaler at Pittsburg, and others at Salem, Wheeling, and New 
Philadelphia. Generally, local contests were left in charge of local 
partners, while appealed cases and practise in the State supreme 
and federal courts received his personal attention. 

The final re-trial of the great case of John Moore vs. Gano, 
Thorns, and Talbot, came on during the March term in 1845. It 
was the end of the tug of war in the greatest of Stanton's early legal 
battles — a struggle which lasted about ten years. In 1835 William 
Talbot, William Thoms, and Aaron G. Gano formed a partnership 
for the purpose of "cornering" the pork and lard market. To carry 
on their enormous transactions resort was had to extensive borrow- 
ing. After the panic of 1837 the business became disastrous, a single 
loss to one of the partners reaching one hundred thousand dollars. 
In 1838 John Moore, a creditor, secured judgment for twenty-three 
thousand dollars against William Talbot, a member of the firm, who 
was unable to pay but who was the only one on whom summons 
was served. In 1839 suit was brought to subject Gano and Thoms, 
the wealthy partners, to the judgment, which was defeated. Follow- 
ing this result, Stanton must secure a new trial or be permanently 
routed. After exhaustive research, at the December term, 1843, 
before the court in banc, he made his famous argument for a new 


tiial, which was granted. He then began laying plans for success. 
"1 must succeed," he said, "or my client will be ruined." 

The efforts made to carry out his purpose are astounding. He 
traveled to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, Phila- 
delphia, Cincinnati, and elsewhere gathering facts. When he came 
into court, he had so thoroughly sifted, digested, and weighed every 
item of evidence on both sides and was so completely familiar with 
the whole range of the firm's transactions that the opposing attor- 
neys were completely over-matched and Court and jury instinctively 
looked to him for information. He prepared and had in court sev- 
eral manuscript books to cover everything known about the case. 
One book contained all the financial transactions, itemized and 
analyzed ; another all the correspondence of the firm and its mem- 
bers, conveniently briefed ; another a list of all the purchases ; an- 
other all of the sales ; another all of the credits ; another all of the 
profits and losses ; another a digested abstract of testimony in pre- 
vious trials ; another the laws and decisions applicable to contro- 
verted points ; another a "course of argument" for the jury ; and still 
another a "line of argument" for the Court. 

Says John McCracken of Steubenville: 

Stanton had about staked his life on winning. He argued part of one 
day and all of the next. Before noon he had torn off his cravat and 
opened the collar of his shirt, for he always feared apoplexy. As night 
drew on I thought he would drop dead. He was black in the face. In the 
evening the case went to the jury. Stanton left the chamber and all night 
he and I walked up and down in front of the court-house, discussing the 
trial and waiting for a verdict. Finally, at sunrise, the jury brought in a 
verdict for Stanton, and his rejoicing was ten times greater than that 
of the client he had saved from ruin. 

Although more than half a century has elapsed, the "Pork Case" 
is still one of the notable things talked about in and around Steuben- 
ville whenever Stanton is under discussion. In one way or another, 
for more than ten years, its principals were valuable clients. What 
is said to be Stanton's first clean fee of five thousand dollars came 
from one of the complainants, Mordecai Moore, who borrowed ten 
thousand dollars from the United States Bank of Pittsburg, char- 
tered by the legislature of Pennsylvania after the expiration of the 
charter of the United States bank. As security for payment, he 
executed a mortgage on his farm in Ohio. When the note matured 
the bank undertook to foreclose the mortgage, and Stanton for de- 


fense declared that the bank was a State institution and had no right 
to take liens upon land outside of Pennsylvania. The Court sus- 
tained the defense, and Moore paid Stanton five thousand dollars 
for the victory. 

In 1845 Caleb J. McNulty of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, clerk of the 
House of Representatives at Washington, was alleged to be a de- 
faulter to the extent of forty-four thousand, five hundred dollars. 
He was dismissed by unanimous vote of the House, and indicted for 
embezzlement in the District of Columbia. United States Senator 
Benjamin Tappan, Stanton's partner, was one of the bondsmen for 
'McNulty, who, at the opening of the session, had made Stanton's 
brother Darwin his assistant. That McNulty was in default was not 
denied, and Democratic journals loudly demanded his punishment 
and full restitution to the Federal treasury by his bondsmen and 
political backers, in order to save the party honor untarnished. 

Oblivious of public clamor, Stanton took the case, determined to 
clear his client and discharge the liability of his old friend Tappan ; 
and by the interposition of many technical and legal points brought 
out unexpectedly and pressed upon the Court with swiftness and 
vigor, he induced Judge Crawford to dismiss further proceedings 
under the indictment. His manifestation of ability and energy, 
coupled with boldness and readiness to meet and upset unexpected 
points in the case, attracted attention and admiration in Washing- 
ton, where he was a new figure. His style was fresh and full of 
originality and power, and captivated court, spectators, and news- 
papers. He left the capital on his birth-day — the day of victory — at 
the age of thirty-one with the reputation of a master jurist, which 
was, above all things, the result he was seeking. 

The year 1846 was more eventful. At a mass meeting held on 
June 9, Stanton presented resolutions endorsing the Mexican war 
and reciting reasons why the people should stand by the adminis- 
tration in its prosecution. The community was not a unit on the 
subject, but the "Steubenville Greys," a military organization com- 
prising the leading young men of the city and commanded by his 
partner, George W. McCook, voted to tender their services to 
the Government. The tender was accepted, and before the young 
soldiers left for the front, Stanton drew wills for them, or gave 
advice as to arranging their personal affairs for the contingency of 
death. He himself had proposed to accompany them, or raise an- 
other body of volunteers, but was advised by Dr. Tappan that he 

Alfred Taylor. 

James Turnbull. 


would not be accepted by the army surgeon because of the se- 
verity and frequency of his asthmatic attacks. Subsequent events 
proved that it was well that he remained at home. 

In August, 1846, his brother, Dr. Darwin E. Stanton, assist- 
ant clerk of the House of Representatives, returned from Washing- 
to his home in Virginia, across the river from Steubenville, ill 
of fever. The attack increased in severity until, the patient's rea- 
son having become unsettled, he secured one of his own lances 
and severed the femoral artery. "He bled to death in a few mo- 
ments, in the presence of his mother," says Alfred Taylor. "Neigh- 
bors came in and I sent William Inglebright over the river to Steu- 
benville to carry the news. Edwin M. Stanton came over at once, 
but on seeing how terrible the happening was, lost self-control and 
wandered off into the woods without his hat or coat. John Knox, 
assisted by William Brown* brought him back and Dr. Sinclair, 
fearing a second suicide, ordered Knox and Samuel Filson to watch 
him every moment." 

As Darwin left no unencumbered estate, Stanton gathered 
the stricken widow and her three children into his own house 
in Steubenville, where they shared equally with his mother and 
son the generous provision he loved to make for those around 

♦William Brown, one of Stanton's cronies, a resident of Holiday's Cove, 
says: "I was not present at the death of Darwin, but I chased and caught 
his brother Edwin, who, insane over the event, was running about in the 


Stanton's practise being now almost exclusively in the higher 
courts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, he was compelled to 
seek a larger base from which to carry it on. Therefore, in 1847, 
he established headquarters m Pittsburg. Before following him 
thither some further reminiscences of him at home will be given. 

At the first meeting of the Steubenville city council, in January, 
1847, an ordinance was adopted creating the office of city solicitor, 
and Stanton was next moment unanimously elected to the position. 
The city was infested with a rough and dangerous element from the 
Ohio River, and petty crimes were numerous. The public rose up 
and invoked his aid in quelling the disorder. He responded ef- 
fectually. At the first trial of delinquents after his appointment, 
there was a great gathering of malefactors in court. With a rasp- 
ing hiss, waving his hand over the noisome crowd, he called them 
the "rats of Steubenville," and declared that he intended to "trap 
and exterminate them all." The name of "rats" clung to them for 
years; but Stanton soon drove them to their lairs and brought the 
city back to comparative security. 

On March 8, 1847, he was elected a director of the Fire De- 
partment and, dressed in the regulation belt and blouse of a fire- 
man, rode a fine horse at the head of the annual procession, as 
marshal of the day. In June, 1847, he made the address of welcome 
to Captain McCook's "Steubenville Greys" on their return from the 
Mexican war. 

The Reverend Samuel Longden of Greencastle, Indiana, relates 
the following: 

A young man named Burney, who was a member of my church, em- 
ployed Mr. Stanton to bring suit against Dr. Barnes, for malpractise. The 
case primarily was that of luxation of the knee-joint backwards. The sur- 
geon treated the young man for fracture of the tibia, and continued the 
mistreatment until the patient was crippled for life. When the trial came 
on Mr. Stanton had in court the bones of the human leg in normal and 


many abnormal conditions. He had spent several days in the office of Dr. 
Thomas Cummings studying fractures, dislocations, and general surgery, 
and was able to put the expert witnesses all to rout. He was clear, master- 
ful, and convincing. The jury believed him implicitly, for he was an hon- 
est man. In my long career I have never heard from the rostrum, the 
pulpit, or the bar such absolutely convincing argument and forcible ora- 
tory as I heard from Edwin M. Stanton before he was thirty years of age. 
They tell me that in court, warring for his clients, he was sometimes like an 
iron avalanche; but I must aver that in society he was as sweet and gra- 
cious and altogether as attractive as any man I ever met, and a good 
man, too. 

Dr. B. Mears, a physician of Steubenville, reported that he had 
delivered Rectina McKinley, spinster, of a child. Stanton, in her 
behalf, brought suit against the doctor for slander, recovering one 
thousand dollars damages. Shortly after the money was due on 
execution, but previous to its payment, William Ralston, a thrifty 
bachelor, married Miss McKinley. After the marriage, Ralston 
called upon Stanton. 

"Well, Billy," said Stanton, who knew him well, "you married 
Rectina and you have a good wife." 

"Yes, I believe I have ; and I am calling to see if you have col- 
lected the Mears claim." 

"Yes, Billy, it's all paid in. You now have a good wife. I have 
proved to the world that she is without a blemish. I charged only 
one thousand dollars for sending her out of court with a good char- 
acter. A judgment of one thousand dollars as a bait to catch a good 
husband, such as I believe you to be, is cheap, cheap as dirt." So 
he kept the one thousand dollars, but Ralston, after that, never was 
friendly to lawyers. 

Valentine Owesney, a provision merchant of Steubenville, was 
robbed of about five hundred dollars in cash. A certain character 
was suspected, arrested, and put upon trial. He was defended by 
Stanton and acquitted, and immediately afterward disappeared. 
Shortly after his disappearance, Stanton walked into Owesney's 
store and, throwing down three hundred dollars in cash, observed 
that now he had paid what he had been owing. Owesney, an honest 
German, was nonplussed, for Stanton owed him nothing, and in- 
quired the meaning of the performance. Stanton explained that the 
man arrested for robbing the store and acquitted was really guilty. 
"I cleared him," said he, "got back the money and sent him out of 
the country. I gave him fifty dollars to travel on ; about one hun- 


dred dollars was used in the expense of the trial ; I have kept fifty 
dollars for my fee and here is the remainder, which is your share." 
The Reverend James L. Vallandigham of Newark, Delaware, 
who was practising law at New Lisbon, Ohio, when Stanton was 
admitted to the bar, says: 

A controversy that gained much fame for Stanton arose from the 
effort of disaffected members of the Economy Society of Beaver County, 
Pennsylvania, to dissolve and wind up the association. He appeared for 
the insurgent members and at the lower trials, by his matchless skill as a 
lawyer and profound exposition of the true economics of industrial and 
religious life, won successive verdicts. His knowledge of religion and 
the Bible was so great that the elders of the Economy Society believed 
he was, or had been, a regularly ordained minister of the gospel. 

Joseph M. Rickey of Cleveland, Ohio, contributes the following: 

Mr. Stanton and Roderick S. Moodey, an attorney of distinguished 
ability, conducted a trial in the old court-house when I was deputy clerk. 
Moodey, after examining a witness, turned him over to Stanton, who opened 
on him a raking fire of questions. Moodey, in sympathy for the wounded 
feelings of his witness, turned to Stanton and remonstrated. Stanton, in a 
gutteral tone, ordered Moodey to make his appeal to the Court and "quit 
whining." Moodey retorted: "I don't think a whine is any worse than a 
bark" — giving peculiar emphasis to the word "bark" in imitation of the 
bull-dog voice of Stanton. Quickly and imperiously Stanton replied: "Oh, 
yes, Mr. Moodey, there is a difference — dogs bark and puppies whine." 
Moodey was bursting with rage. The court, seeing the rising storm, ad- 
journed. Moodey returned during the recess and paced the corridors. 
As soon as Stanton and his partner McCook appeared, arm-in-arm, Moodey 
flung his coat, and pounced onto Stanton with the fury of a panther. Spec- 
tacles, papers, and hat flew in all directions. In a moment the stalwart 
McCook snatched Moodey away and by-standers gathered up Stanton's 
scattered things. When court was called the case proceeded as if nothing 
had occurred. Stanton and Moodey soon became friends* and their inti- 
macy grew warmer as they advanced in life. 

During the winter of 1847, the community was pretty thor- 
oughly stirred up over the performance of a traveling mesmerist 
named Wilson, who claimed to have supernatural powers, and Stan- 
ton was angry to think his townspeople could be gulled by such 
a mountebank. To prove the fraud, and that mesmerism or animal 
magnetism (now called hypnotism) was a common gift, dififering 
in degree only as physical or mental strength differs in different 

*When, in 1863, a law was enacted authorizing Stanton to appoint a 
solicitor of the War Department, he offered the position to Moodey. 


persons, he gave a public exhibition, at which the people attended 
without price. 

"I was present in a front seat," says Mrs. Davison Filson of 
Steubenville. "Calling for volunteer subjects, he put many *to 
sleep' as it was called, and controlled them, bringing them out at 
will. One night, however, in Stier's Hall, he went too far in mes- 
merizing a man named Taylor, an employe of the paper mill. After 
controlling the subject for a time he failed to bring the usual return 
to consciousness. Repeated efforts resulted similarly, and the au- 
dience became frightened. However, after great exertion, Mr. Stan- 
ton succeeded in bringing the subject back to life, and that ended 
public exhibitions of mesmerism in Steubenville. It also exploded 
the idea that the stranger was a supernatural being — had 'help from 
on high' — and the people spent no more money on him." 

Between Stanton's residence and the river stood a large factory 
for the production of glass. The soot, smoke, and cinders from its 
furnaces constituted an especial nuisance. Therefore, in 1847, he 
purchased the factory and the considerable tract of land on which it 
stood, and, after dismantling the works, built in its stead a house 
for his gardener, Alfred Taylor. Around the house he planted fruit 
and other trees, and laid out the finest garden ever seen in 
Steubenville. To this tract the Stantons gave the name of "The 
Patch." Although now subdivided by streets and alleys — one of 
which is Stanton Street — and covered with houses, that section of 
the city is still popularly described as "Stanton's Patch." 

"The glass-house land was very rich and produced abundantly," 
says Alfred Taylor. "I not only had enough vegetables and fruits 
from it for Mr. Stanton's large household, but much to sell. I pro- 
duced there the first celery ever raised in Steubenville, and had also 
many novel plants and herbs. The fruit trees and vines comprised 
apples, peaches, quinces, plums, cherries, currants, pears, and grapes. 
The production of grapes was heavy, and sometimes we had hun- 
dreds of bushels of peaches beyond family requirements, for sale. 
They always brought a high price. Mr. Stanton had great pride in 
his garden. He loved a good table and wanted to produce as many 
of the luxuries as possible on his own land — not to save money, 
for he was earning large sums, but to secure a quality higher than 
that of any we could buy." 

Besides his fruit trees, greenhouse, and a garden, he had a few 
high-grade young cattle which were a source of much satisfaction. 


He often went to fondle them ; and when the men were making hay, 
was delighted, toward evening, to help them "pitch on." Having a 
frame of great power, although unaccustomed to labor of that kind, 
he could lift a larger rick of hay than any of his men. 

"Once, while pitching to the wagon," says Alfred Taylor, "Mr. 
Stanton broke a new white-ash fork's tail in an attempt to show how 
big a load he could lift. The tines of that fork I am using on my 
farm near Holiday's Cove, West Virginia. He loved, on arriving 
from Pittsburg and elsewhere, to come to the stable where we were 
milking and, seated on a hand-made milking-stool, talk about the 
stock and home affairs. The old stool is still in use in my stable." 

John Mullen of Columbus, Ohio, for years a tutor of dancing 
and music in Steubenville, was first an errand and house-boy and 
then hostler for Stanton. His recollections give a peculiarly inter- 
esting inside view of Stanton's life in Steubenville : 

I came to Mr. Stanton early in 1847. I had lost my mother and in 
the fall father followed her. My heart was broken entirely. I had a sister, 
but she was young like myself, and what could we do alone in a strange 
country? I was moaning and crying when Mr. Stanton came to me and 
wiping away the tears with his soft silk handkerchief, said, oh, so kindly: 
"Never mind, Johnnie; I will be your father. You can live with me. I 
will care for and clothe you; send you to college and build a house for 
your sister." So I was comforted, for no one could have been more kind 
and loving than he was to me. 

After the middle of 1847 Mr. Stanton spent only a portion of his time 
in Steubenville, but he kept his house and yard up beautifully, and as long 
as he lived called it home. In the yard were roses and many kinds of 
flowfers which he loved, and the finest lawn ever seen in town. He said, 
"Always keep mother in money; give her what she wants." When we fell 
short of money during Mr. Stanton's absence I went to Colonel McCook 
and got more. No one about the house wanted for anything. In fact, the 
neighbors thought that the young children of Stanton's sister and sister-in- 
law, who lived with him, were too luxuriously provided for. 

With himself Mr. Stanton was not so liberal. He snloked cigars and 
wore very good clothes, but had no other personal extravagances. His hab- 
its were of the very best. He had no wine on the table; did not keep it in 
the house. He belonged to no gay clubs and gave no time to pleasure. 
His clothing was always of very fine material but modestly made up, and 
in winter and on chilly evenings he wore a heavy military cloak. He was 
a princely-looking man, with dark, silken, flowing beard; very polite though 

Sometimes, but not often, he drove out with his mother and sister 
and sister-in-law and the children; but generally Alfred Taylor was the 
family driver. The carriage was a large covered double-seated rig, and the 

Chauncey Dewey. William Stanton Buchanan. 

Stanton's Law Partners. 


horses the finest he could buy. He loved a good horse. 

On returning home after considerable absences, Mr. Stanton invariably 
brought presents for all, including the servants. He never came to Steu- 
benville without visiting the grave of his wife. When at home for any 
length of time he went twice weekly to her resting-place. I often ac- 
companied him, to trim the grass and cultivate the flowers. He wept and 
was very sad at these times, and his mind seemed to slip way back into the 
past. His grief made such an impression on me that I thought he would 
never marry again and that I, who loved him so well, ought never to marry 
at all, and I have kept the faith. 

Mr. Stanton was liberal not only to the great number in his house, 
but to the churches. He gave freely to all. I was a Catholic and he gave 
money to me to spend as my own for church purposes. I recollect that he 
entertained Archbishop Purcell of Cincinnati in his own home and always 
listened to the Archbishop's sermons in Steubenville. He liked Purcell 
because he had brains. He sought and cultivated smart men, and he loved 
little children. 

I do not think he cared for women generally. He did not seem to 
know many of them and spent no time with those he did know. But he 
loved his son Eddie passionately. Often I have seen them walking about 
the yard, which was surrounded by a high, closed fence so as to keep the 
public out, clasped arm and arm about like two school girls. He mourned 
deeply over the loss of an eye* by his son Eddie, and was ever warning the 
lad to be careful of his health. 

In the summer of 1848 I took the horses and carriage over to Pitts- 
burg — a very long, rough drive. On arriving I went for my meal to the St. 
Charles Hotel, where Mr. Stanton boarded. I was very hungry, but as I 
did not know how-to order from a fancy French bill-of-fare, and was too 
much scared by the splendor of the surroundings to ask questions, I had 
nothing to eat except a glass of water and a couple of crackers that 
happened to be left near my plate. As I came out of the grand dining- 
hall Mr. Stanton noticed that I looked crestfallen and asked me if I had 
a good meal. I told him the truth. He enjoyed the joke but promptly 
took me to a fine restaurant and, ordering a heavy meal for me, told the 
waiter to see that I made no mistake this time. When I saw him pay 
a dollar for it I was astonished, truly. I wrote back to my friends in 
Ireland that in America a snug little hostler like myself, when away on 
a journey, could have grand dinners in gilded dining-halls at the master's 
expense of a dollar each, and everybody should make haste to come over. 

As to work, Samson could not outdo him. Frequently, at 10 or 11 at 
night I have taken the cart and gone with him to the office to fetch a load 
of law books to the house, and whenever I did that, I do not believe he slept 
a wink but plowed and studied and thought and walked up and down 
the room all night. 

* "Destroyed when small," W. S. Buchanan says, "by a penknife which 
Stanton threw into the fire during his first distress over the painful acci- 


I can remember but little about his law practise except that he was 
going all the time and that it was important and profitable. Once, while 
I was in the office, a farmer for whom he won a suit involving perhaps 
$20,000, came in. "What is your bill?" inquired the man. "One thousand 
dollars," replied Mr. Stanton. The man was speechless, for he had brought 
in a little jag of farm truck to sell to pay the bill. He walked back and 
forth with his head down for some time without saying a word. Finally, he 
exclaimed: "One thousand dollars!" "Yes," said Mr. Stanton; "do you think 
I would argue the wrong side for you for less?" 

He was the best and kindest friend I ever had and the best man who 
ever lived in Steubenville. H every person, living and dead, who was ever 
aided and befriended, or defended without fee by Mr. Stanton, were to 
rise up and make a procession in his honor, it would be long indeed, and 
the character of those in it would astonish the world. God bless him, God 
bless him forever! 


Having arranged a partnership with Charles Shaler in the 
thriving city of Pittsburg, Stanton began, about the middle of 1847 
to devote much of his time to his Eastern business. He was ad- 
mitted to the bar of Allegheny County on October 30, 1847, and the 
firm opened offices on the ground floor of their own building on 
Fourth Avenue, near Wood Street. His qualities were already 
known in Pittsburg, and he sprang at once into a lucrative practise. 
However, appearing for the so-called "Cotton Kings" in the liti- 
gation which grew out of the famous ten-hour law of 1848, he earned 
a large share of momentary hatred. The principal employers of 
Pittsburg, many of whom were his clients, were arrayed against 
the act, while the Pittsburg Post was aggressive in sustaining it and 
denouncing the "Cotton Kings." Stanton, in order to counteract the 
influence of the Post, wrote a series of opposing articles which were 
published anonymously in the Commercial Journal. At last, in July, 
1848, the trouble culminated in a riot and then went into the courts. 

During the trial he took exceptions to the ruling of the Court 
and presented a charge to be given to the jury. The judge silently 
read the instructions and looked inquiringly over the paper at Stan- 
ton, who exclaimed : "I demand that those instructions be read to 
the jury." The Court withdrew the instructions already given, or- 
dered the jury to be kept together until morning and then in- 
structed them according to Stanton's request. His bold and decided 
manner had its effect; but many marveled that the judge did not 
fine him for contempt. 

In 1848 he actively supported Martin Van Buren, the Free-Soil 
candidate for president, as against Lewis Cass, the regular Demo- 
cratic nominee, whose bank notions he abhorred. As his large and 
wealthy clientage was almost unanimously Whig, he was charged 
with really working and voting for Taylor* although pretending to 

♦Says Lecky Harper, at that time editor of the Pittsburg Post, organ of 


support Van Buren. While the campaign was at its height, he ad- 
dressed a Van Buren meeting in Stcubenville. The Democracy came 
out in full force to hear what he had to say. His arraignment of Cass 
and the Democratic platform was relentless. The old-line Demo- 
crats in the audience, exasperated at the change in their dashing 
leader of 1840, withdrew and held an indignation meeting on the 
court-house steps, at which Stanton was roundly denounced. In- 
stead of being disconcerted, he was rendered more vehement by this 
demonstration, and poured a scathing fire upon the leaders of the 
local Democracy, and had the satisfaction, a few days later, of seeing 
Cass defeated. 

The firm of Shaler and Stanton had not been long in business 
before the necessity of a trained and careful office lawyer developed. 
"As neither Shaler nor Stanton had an aptitude for keeping ac- 
counts," says Robert T. Hunt, who was in their office for some 
years, "Theobald Umbstaetter, Stanton's Ohio partner, was brought 
to take care of the office business. Before that Shaler drew his 
checks and posted his share of the books in black while Stanton 
used red ink ; and that is the way they kept track of things." 

"Shaler and Stanton received great fees," says Major C. Shaler 
of Washington, D. C. "I remember that they received for just 
one opinion ten thousand dollars. They earned a great deal, but be- 
fore the coming of Judge Umbstaetter, saved very little of it." 

During July, 1849, Stanton began a suit which gave him lasting 
fame — that of "The State of Pennsylvania vs. the Wheeling and 
Belmont Bridge Company and others." The corporation named 
began the erection of a suspension bridge over the Ohio River at 
Wheeling, Virginia, in 1847. The structure, the longest of its kind 
in the world, the central span being one thousand feet in length, the 
cables of which were hauled over the great towers and from shore to 
shore by platoons of oxen, obstructed the navigation of the river. 
The chimneys of the larger packets were unable to pass under it. 

the Democratic party: "Although known as a Democrat, I really never took 
serious stock in Mr. Stanton's Democracy. He was more of a student than 
a politician anyway; and after his professional reputation became strong, 
took no interest in partisan controversies, except as they involved his 
friends or clients. Law, law, law was his god, his mistress, and there he 
never ceased to worship. He always was opposed to slavery extension 
and to slavery itself, and I, who knew him all his life, never thought that 
he was ever really a Democrat, though at times an apparently vehement 
Democratic partisan." 


Some of the owners and commanders of the two hundred and fifty 
packets then plying those waters were already Stanton's cHents, and 
applied to him for relief. The questions involved were in many re- 
spects new and certainly important, affecting the enormous com- 
merce of the river and the prosperity and development of numerous 

For some time he revolved the case in his mind, and while thus 
engaged, in order to strengthen the basis for what he at last pro- 
posed to do, boarded the steamer Hibcrnia No. 2, with numerous 
competent witnesses, and ordered the commander to proceed down 
the river. He well knew that the steamer — one of the finest and 
costliest on the Ohio — could not pass under the bridge, neverthe- 
less he commanded Captain Charles W. Batcheler* to proceed at 
full speed in the usual channel between the piers. The tall chimneys, 
extending nearly eighty feet above the water, were carried away, 
and the upper works of the packet demolished — as expected. Thus 
reinforced, he began suit against the stockholders of the bridge 
company for damages and secured the consent of Pennsylvania to 
employ her sovereignty in a suit to abate the bridge as a public 
nuisance — a bar, hindrance, and obstruction to free commerce be- 
tween the several States on navigable water and a damage to the 
general welfare. 

On July 20, 1849, Associate-Justice Grier, of the United States 
Supreme Court, referred a motion for an alternative writ to com- 
pel the bridge company to abate their structure or show cause why 
it should not be abated as a public nuisance, to the full bench to be 
heard at the ensuing December term. Stanton was elated, brother 

*Says Captain Batcheler: "Often Stanton came on board my boat and 
went to Wheeling to witness the entire operation of making the journey, 
lowering the chimneys, etc. River boats were then, as they have been 
ever since, annoyed by the collection of wharfage at all the towns along 
the river; and frequently the wharfage was more than the business for 
which the boats landed. On one of his trips he said: 'Charlie, why don't 
you quit paying wharfage at these places? They have no right to collect it. 
If the boats will give me two thousand dollars I will agree to rid them 
of that wharfage.' The result was that we quit paying wharfage at Wells- 
ville, and they sued us. Stanton filed an answer contending that the collec- 
tion of wharfage from a boat passing from one State into another was a 
tax upon commerce between the States and a violation of the constitution. 
The authorities did not dare to contend against him, and our boats never 
afterwards paid wharfage at W^llsville," 


attorneys having predicted that the motion would not be enter- 

While preparing for the hearing he made a scientific examina- 
tion of combustion under all possible circumstances — with large and 
small furnaces ; strong and light draft ; wood and coal mixed and 
wood and coal alone for fuel and with high and low chimneys for 
each class of fuel, experimenting upon boats of different sizes and 
construction, always with witnesses on board in the persons of 
men of well-known reputation and skill in physical sciences. He also 
visited the towns along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the com- 
merce of which was in any way aflfected ; gathered statistics of the 
volume and value of the inland commerce of the Mississippi Valley 
for thirty years, and collected a mass of documents showing the rel- 
ative cost of railway and water transportation, so that he might con- 
clusively prove the wide-spread injury inflicted by obstructing the 
free navigation of the Ohio River and its tributaries. 

While interviewing pilots at the Pittsburg wharves, he fell 
into the hold of the Isaac Newton, and suffered a compound fracture 
of the knee, an injury which compelled him to walk with a hitch 
during the remainder of his life. He was taken to Steubenville on 
the next steamer and transferred to his house on a stretcher, where, 
under the care of Dr. Tappan, he lay practically helpless for weeks. 
Nevertheless, having attendants to handle books and documents, he 
continued to study and prepare his cases, attend to correspondence, 
and send out papers for service, so that the bridge suit suffered no 
delay. The Reverend George Buchanan, calling upon him at this 
time, found him propped up in bed, surrounded by law books and 
legal documents. "This is a lucky accident," observed Stanton to 
his pastor, "for I shall be a good lawyer by the time I get well." 

Judge Benjamin Patton of Hicksville, Ohio, has several letters 
written while Stanton was thus confined, one of which is as follows : 

Steubenville, Dec. 11, 1849. 
Dear Sir: 

Pain and the inconvenience of writing in the only position I am allowed 
to occupy (the broad of my back) have prevented my acknowledging your 
favor, and expressing how much your letter delighted me. 

The pleasure of your society and the tokens of friendship and con- 
fidence I receive at your hands, are esteemed among the most valuable 
consequences of my residence at Pittsburg, to merit and retain which will 
always be an earnest desire in my heart. 

I trust we shall be able to go East together, and we can be in Wash- 


ington about the most interesting period of the season. I hope you keep 
Shaler [Stanton's partner] in good spirits. The old gentleman has a hard 
time with his partners, who seem to be perpetually getting him into some 
scrape or other. 

As to the ladies to whom you so kindly offer to bear my messages, I 
do not know that I can do better than to give you carte blanche. As the 
present is the first period of leisure I have had for some years, it may be 
as well that I am not able to expose myself to the influence of their charms; 
but I will stand up to whatever you may say in that behalf, feeling as- 
sured that with you for my attorney I shall appear better than in person, 
and have a better plea entered than I could put in for myself. 

Let me repeat my desire to hear often from you, and believe me to be, 
Ever most faithfully your friend, 
The Honorable B. Patton. E. M. Stanton. 

On February 25, 1850, he was admitted to the bar of the United 
States Supreme Court on motion of Reverdy Johnson and made 
his first argument in the bridge case before the full bench. 

The owners of the bridge contended that the Court had no 
jurisdiction. Labored and exhaustive arguments followed, involv- 
ing constitutional points and questions of practise in equity. Chief 
Justice Taney and Justices Wayne and Curtis personally thanked 
Stanton for the learning and acceptable array of new facts brought 
before them; and held that they had jurisdiction. The entire case 
was, on May 29, 1850, referred to Chancellor Walworth of New 
York. On February 6, 1851, he made a voluminous report, holding 
that the bridge was an unwarranted and unlawful obstruction to 
navigation, and that it must be either removed or raised so as to 
permit th-i free and usual passage of boats. 

At the December term, 1851, the report was affirmed, after 
long argument, the Court holding that it had full jurisdiction, and 
m May, 1852, (Chief Justice Taney and Justice Daniel dissenting), 
rendered final judgment on the merits of the case in favor of Stanton 
with costs, requiring the bridge to be elevated to the height of one 
hundred and eleven feet level headway over the channel of the river, 
and "that the same shall be removed by the respondents, or so 
altered on or before the first day of February, 1853." 

After the Supreme Court had assumed jurisdiction, but before 
it had entered this decree. Congress was appealed to by the bridge 
company for relief, which was granted in the form of an act passed 
August 31, 1852, declaring the Wheeling suspension bridge a post 
route and a lawful structure as it then stood, thus revising and an- 
nulling the solemn judgment of the highest court in the Republic ! 


The contest before Congress and its committees was conducted 
with great abiHty for several months. The majority report of the 
House Committee on Post Roads is said to have been prepared by 
Reverdy Johnson, and the "views of the minority," protesting 
against Congress reversing and annulling a judgment of the United 
States Supreme Court, was written by Stanton. The majority re- 
port took the ground that it was better to regulate the size of boats 
and the height of their chimneys and upper works than to regulate 
obstructions to national commerce upon navigable waters ! Also 
that the "development of the wonderful power of steam" was reason 
for reversing the final judgments of the nation's highest court ! Stan- 
ton's minority report declared that nothing but chaos could result 
from following such a precedent ; that a reversal of the decree of the 
Supreme Court in one case in favor of a private corporation might 
be followed by others of like nature, and then the Government 
would be disrupted. In answer to the enunciation of the majority 
report that the "development of the mighty power of steam" was 
a sufficient warrant for Congress to step in and upset a formal 
judgment of the Supreme Court, he said that "if such a doctrine has 
been developed by the mighty power of steam, it were better that 
that power had remained unknown." The real point at issue 
throughout the case before Congress was whether the United States 
or a given one of the States was sovereign. 

Beginning in 1816, charters for a bridge over the Ohio River 
at Wheeling had been granted by Ohio or Virginia or both, and 
many other charters for structures over that stream had been 
granted by Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois ; but every one, 
including that under which the Wheeling bridge itself was erected, 
contained an express clause that nothing therein contained should 
be construed to authorize a structure which should "obstruct the 
free and common navigation of said stream." But the bridge was 
up and did "obstruct the free and common navigation" of the 
stream, so the legislature of Virginia passed another law — after 
the Federal court had assumed jurisdiction of the case — declaring 
that the "said wire suspension bridge erected across the Ohio River 
at Wheeling, as aforesaid, be and the same is declared to be of law- 
ful height." 

Thus, a structure erected in violation of the repeated statutes 
of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, and 
Virginia herself, and therefore unlawful, was declared, by a peculiar 


enactment of Virginia in 1850 — an ex post facto act — to be lawful ! 
This act of 1850 was the base on which the majority of Congress, 
representing the State sovereignty theory, claimed to stand while 
overturning the judgment of the Supreme Court. 

Against the notion that a State is greater than the United 
States, Stanton contended with abhorrence, saying that "to deter- 
mine by peaceful judgment" whether the rights of and compacts be- 
tween the States "had been violated or not, and to administer the 
proper remedy, was the main purpose of establishing the Supreme 
Court. No feature in our Government has more commended itself 
to the approval of mankind," and "it's decrees ought not to be vio- 
lently reversed." 

But a majority of Congress was the other way of thinking ; the 
bill passed and the bridge was allowed to stand and its successor* 
is standing at the original height, to this day, compelling all large 
boats passing under it to lower their chimneys. 

Stanton, however, through his powerful efforts and immense 
learning, established a reputation that was ever after of value to 
him, as well as the right of Congress to regulate interstate com- 
merce in every possible form. The theories of court jurisdiction 
and Federal sovereignty which he first enunciated in this case, 
are now cardinal principles of national law. 

*While this great suit was pending a hurricane destroyed the Wheeling 
bridge. Calling the attention of the Court to this fact and asking for an in- 
junction (which, in view of the action of Congress was denied) to prevent 
its reconstruction, Stanton observed cynically: "Your Honors can now 
see what Providence thinks of this bridge by what He has done to it!" 


In early days the State of Pennsylvania built, owned, and 
managed canals, aqueducts, and railways. Out of this ownership 
grew litigation. The Pennsylvania Railway Company sued the 
Pennsylvania State canal commissioners to compel them to haul 
complainant's cars over and on the State road known as the Phila- 
delphia and Columbia Railway. Stanton, for the commissioners, 
resisted the suit and was victorious before the supreme court, of 
which Jeremiah S. Black, who delivered the opinion (in December, 
1852), was chief justice. Stanton's definition, during the trial of 
this case, of the rights and limitations of public corporations as 
the mere trustees of delegated portions of the general sovereignty, 
and his measurement of the undeveloped or reserved powers of the 
people to control corporations under a Republican form of govern- 
ment, caused Judge Black to describe him as the greatest lawyer 
of the time and, years afterward when a member of Buchanan's 
cabinet, to choose him to defend the Government in the famous 
California cases, referred to further on. 

A case involving important and novel points, growing out of 
what was popularly known as the "Erie Railroad War," brought 
large fees and increased reputation to Stanton. That part of the 
present Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad lying east of 
Erie, Pennsylvania, was in 1852 broad-gauge — 6 feet — while that 
part extending west was the "Ohio gauge" — 4 feet, 10 inches. The 
break where the lines met necessitated an annoying and costly trans- 
fer of passengers and freight. In the fall of 1853 the Erie and North- 
east Railroad determined to change its gauge to 4 feet and 10 inches, 
thereby making the gauge uniform from Cleveland to BufiFalo. 

The authorities of the city of Erie resisted the change and 
by ordinance declared that a railroad of any other gauge than 
six feet was a public nuisance and must be removed. In Decem- 
ber, 1853, the railroad company changed the gauge as contemplated 


and the city tore up the tracks and destroyed the bridges wherever 
they occupied public streets. The company relaid the tracks and 
the city again took them up. Thus commenced the "Erie Railroad 
War," which continued until 1856, the supreme court of Pennsyl- 
vania deciding against the railroad company and holding that its 
charter was forfeited to the State. 

In pursuance of this decision the legislature passed an act de- 
claring the railroad franchises forfeited and directing the governor 
to take charge of the lines in behalf of the State. This he attempted 
to do, but never secured possession of roads or rolling stock. Ques- 
tions relating to agreements of the Pennsylvania roads with con- 
necting lines in other States, contracts to carry United States mails, 
and the fact that the rolling stock used in Pennsylvania was owned 
in other States, were brought out skilfully by Stanton, and were 
found to be difficult to meet. He also prepared to apply to the 
Supreme Court of the United States for a writ to prevent the of- 
ficials of Pennsylvania from executing laws "impairing the obli- 
gation of a contract." The State authorities could not resist such 
a process, and granted satisfactory new charters to the companies. 
Stanton thus gained a complete victory and a practical knowledge 
of railroads and railroad law that was of great value to himself and 
to the nation, while, subsequently, he was secretary of war. 

Dr. Benjamin Tappan married Oella, Stanton's eldest sister, at 
Steubenville. He was a man of genius, widely traveled and well 
educated, but of some eccentricities. In 1854, these eccentricities 
not having disappeared, Mrs. Tappan felt compelled to apply for 
a divorce. 

"Stanton had employed the brilliant Roderick S. Moodey to try 
the suit," says E. F. Andrews, instructor in the Corcoran Institute 
of Art at Washington, "he himself assisting as counsel advisory. 
Attorney-General Morton was counsel for the defendant, an ex- 
citable man and very quick — too quick this time. Stanton had. 
previously told Moodey to ask him on the stand if his sister had not 
lost four of her front teeth. 'Yes, sir, she has,' hissed Stanton. 
'Do you know how she lost them?' 'She once told me, sir, how she 
lost them. She ' Morton was on his feet in an instant protest- 
ing against heresay evidence, and succeeded in stopping the answer ; 
but of course the impression, indelible, had been made on the jury 
that the doctor had knocked the four teeth out. The truth was, 
however, that she lost them in due course of nature. No ruling 


could ever efface the impression made by this question and the sup- 
pression of the answer, and no one knew that fact better than Stan- 
ton. He also knew, as a lawyer, that Morton would stop the answer. 

The suit ended in a decree of divorce and a judgment of fifty 
thousand dollars. 

Late in 1854 Stanton was engaged to defend a suit that de- 
veloped into a battle of giants. Cyrus H. McCormick, a Virginian, 
invented, patented, and built a machine for reaping grain which be- 
came a great success. He erected the first successful machine in a 
blacksmith shop on his father's plantation in Rockbridge County, 
Virginia, and operated it in the presence of many witnesses in the 
summer of 1831. About twenty years later John H. Manny of Wis- 
consin produced a successful apparatus for harvesting grain, and, 
having secured twenty-three letters-patent thereon, turned out four 
hundred machines. McCormick, in November, 1854, brought 
suit in the United States court to prevent the manufacture, sale, 
and use of the Manny reaper and mower as an infringement upon 
patents taken out by him in 1847. The first hearing was set for 
September, 1855, at Cincinnati. 

The rich wheat empire of the West was developing apace ; a 
horse-reaper was the most popular if not the most important inven- 
tion of the day ; the demand for reapers and mowers was unlimited, 
and, as there was a liberal profit in their manufacture, fortunes 
were at stake. Ralph Emerson of Rockford, a survivor of that 
memorable contest, furnishes some interesting facts concerning 
Stanton's connection with it, and throws new light upon the doings 
of Abraham Lincoln : 

There were something over a dozen lawyers connected with the case. 
P. H. Watson of Washington, George Harding of Philadelphia, and Edwin 
M. Stanton of Pittsburg were the leading counsel on our side; and Reverdy 
Johnson and E. N. Dickerson on the other. As the case increased in import- 
ance we concluded to have three lawyers appear prominently in it, there- 
fore retained Abraham Lincoln. Such a thing as paying a large retainer fee 
was, at that time, a strange thing in the West, and Mr. Lincoln said the 
fee ($1,000) we paid him was the largest he ever received. 

When the case came on for hearing at Cincinnati it was decided to 
have only two lawyers speak on a side; and Stanton and Harding, having 
devoted so much time to the matter, were selected, an arrangement in which 
Mr. Lincoln concurred. He remained, however, through the argument, which 
covered nearly two weeks. 

Mr. Stanton devoted himself exclusively to the law and his argument 
excited the admiration of all who heard it. At times the Court regarded 


him in amazement, so extraordinary were his memory and power of analy- 
sis. Mr. Lincoln (apparently forgetting the presence of the Court) stood 
throughout Stanton's entire argument, occasionally very near him, drinking 
in his words, and then walking back and forth in the back part of the room, 
closely observing the speaker all the time, wrapt in admiration. As Stanton 
closed and we left the room, Lincoln invited me to take a walk with him, 
which lasted some hours. After a considerable silence, he said: "Emerson, 
it would have been a great mistake if I had spoken in this case; I did not 
fully understand it." 

Another long silence as we walked on, and again: "Emerson, I am 
going home to study — to study law. You know that for any rough-and- 
tumble case (and a pretty good one, too) I am enough for any man we have 
out in that country; but these college-trained men are coming West. They 
have had all the advantages of a life-long training in the law, plenty of 
time to study and everything, perhaps, to fit them. Soon they will be in 
Illinois, and I must meet them. I am just going home to study law, and 
when they appear I will be ready." 

Stanton was present when we were consulting about the advisability 
of a compromise. It nettled him severely. "Will they yield all you want?" 
he asked. "No." "Then," he exclaimed, "I know but one way to compro- 
mise, and that is with sword in hand" — suiting the action to the word, 
raising his hand on high and shouting as though in battle — "to smite and 
keep smiting." 

His lion-like advice prevailed and we never regretted it. The fees 
paid were very large for that time. I cannot give the amount. I think Mr. 
Stanton received $10,000 and his expenses, but he earned the money. 

Judges McLean and Drummond filed their decree in March, 
1856, holding in favor of Stanton's clients. An appeal was taken 
by McCormick to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the 
case became an issue in politics (involving the appointment of a 
commissioner of patents) and a bone of contention in Congress. 
For several years the struggle continued a battle royal, nothing be- 
ing left undone which the power of money and the genius of the 
ablest attorneys in the land could invent. 

The case really turned on the priority of inventing the divider. 
No reaper, however perfect otherwise, could operate successfully 
without a divider at the outer end of the cutter-bar to separate the 
standing from the falling grain as the machine moved forward. 
Without that every machine became entangled and choked and a 

Colonel William P. Wood of Washington, an expert who made 
all of Manny's models, knew that fact. The Manny machine must 
have a divider curved outward, but that feature was covered by 
McCormick's patents. Wood went into Virginia and found (in the 


possession of R. Sampson) an old McCormick reaper, made prior 
to the issuance of McCormick's patent on the divider. He pur- 
chased it and made its crooked divider rod straight ; for a curved 
Manny divider would not be an infringement on a straight McCor- 
mick divider. Using salt and vinegar to rust over the fresh marks 
of the blacksmith who did the work, he shipped the doctored reaper 
to Washington to be used in court, and it won the case ! 

Wood says: "Stanton never knew how that old reaper which 
appeared in Washington with a straight divider had been doc- 
tored, but he knew beyond question that it would defeat McCor- 
mick, the real inventor of the successful reaping machine." 

When the case came up for argument before the United States 
Supreme Court, in February, 1858, there were so many attorneys 
to speak that the time was divided by the Court in such a way that 
Stanton was given less than an hour. He had been speaking per- 
haps five minutes when the Court interrupted to inquire ii the ad- 
dress was in writing. "It is not," replied Stanton. 

"That is to be regretted," answered Justice McLean, requesting 
a deputy marshal to procure the services of a phonographer at 
once "to take down Mr. Stanton's argument for the use of the 

As the only phonographic writers in Washington were engaged 
in taking the debates of Congress, the deputy returned without exe- 
cuting the judge's orders. 

Twice as he was rushing on, Stanton leaned over and whis- 
pered to Mr. Watson. One of the justices inquired politely whether 
the orator was in distress. "I am only asking my associate, your 
Honors," responded Stanton, "how much more time I have." "Fin- 
ish yovtr argument in your own time," quickly interposed Chief Jus- 
tice Taney, "regardless of the rules we have fixed," — to which the 
associate justices nodded approval — an incident scarcely less note- 
worthy than that of Justice McLean leaving his seat to send for a 
phonographic reporter. 

At the conclusion of the argument the case was taken under 
advisement and the large collection of models present moved over 
to chambers on Four-and-a-half Street, where the justices held 
their consultations and made up their judgments.* The decision of 

*Says Major A. E. H. Johnson, then Mr. Watson's associate: "When 
the beautiful models were moved over to chambers, Mr. Watson gave $25 
to the old colored janitor who had charge of the rooms and waited on the 

Philip F. Thomas, 
Secretary of the Treasu; 

Jacob Thompson, John B. Floyd, 

Secretary of Interior Secretary of War. 

Isaac Toucey, Horatio King. 

Secretary of the Navy. Postmaster-General. 

Members of President Buchanan's Cabinet. 


the Court, written by Mr. Justice Grier, was filed on April 22, follow- 
ing, while Stanton was in California. It sustained the Manny pat- 
ents and permitted Manny's heirs and successors to continue manu- 
facturing reapers thereunder, in which they built up an enormous 
business and realized great sums of money. 

justices during their consultations, saying to him: 'When the justices 
are examining these models you must not leave the room but remain and 
see that nothing happens to them, for they are costly.' Of course the 
old servant not only watched the models but heard all that the justices 
said in consultation and communicated it to Mr. Watson. More than a 
month before the decision was filed Mr. McCormick called upon Mr. Wat- 
son, who haw-hawed and was vociferously jolly. He already knew, through 
the old janitor, that he had won, while McCormick and his friends were 
waiting anxiously and ignorantly for the formal decision to be filed for 
their information. Manny had the two ablest managers in America in 
charge of his case — Edwin M. Stanton and Peter H. Watson. If they had 
been on the other side McCormick would have won, as he deserved, for he 
certainly was the inventor of the first successful reaping machine." 


For more than ten years after the death of Mary, his wife, 
Stanton eschewed the society of women. He did indeed pay some 
attention in Steubenville to a woman of fine manners and accom- 
plishments who subsequently became the wife of Dr. John C. 
Zachos, curator of Cooper Union, New York, and was an admirer 
also of Jean Davenport, the actress; but as law was his business 
and its practise his courtship, nothing came of these admirations. 

However, in the family of Lewis Hutchison, a man of wealth 
and prominence and one of Stanton's clients in Pittsburg, were two 
handsome daughters. One of them, Miss Ellen, a woman of queenly 
manners, statuesque figure, and classically beautiful face, made a 
profound impression upon Stanton at their first meeting. This 
impression drew him to the position of suitor, and in due time re- 
sulted in marriage. 

"I never can forget when, in the early summer of 1856," says 
his faithful gardener, Alfred Taylor, "Mr. Stanton came to Steuben- 
ville from Pittsburg to arrange for his approaching second mar- 
riage. He went to two chests in the upper part of the house and 
got out a large number of letters written to him by Mary, his dead 
wife, before and after their marriage. He arranged them in a neat 
pile in the grate, saying he was 'required' to burn them. 'But I 
cannot do it, Alfred,' he said, his voice trembling and tears stream- 
ing down his cheeks ; 'you light them for me, please.' 

"So I put the match to the bundle, but they burned slowly, as 
if pleading to live. The progress of the flames was very painful 
to him, and as the dear messages melted away he walked back and 
forth wringing his hands and weeping. It was sorrowful, very sor- 
rowful, and I turned my back so Mr. Stanton could not see that I, 
too, was crying." 

The marriage was solemnized by Dr. Theodore Lyman, rector 
of Trinity Episcopal Church, in the house of the bride's father, on 



June 25, 1856 — a quiet and thoroughly enjoyable home wedding. 
The bride (born September 24, 1830) was not quite twenty-six and 
the groom not forty-two years of age. After a few weeks of travel, 
Mr. and Mrs. Stanton leased and elegantly furnished a house in 
Washington, on C Street, N. W., near the Metropolitan M. E. 

Brother attorneys pointed out that this house was but a few 
yards from the consultation chambers of the justices of the United 
States Supreme Court. That was the fact, and frequently the jus- 
tices were entertained therein at dinner or as agreeable social 

There were strong reasons for the removal to Washington. 
His chief retainers grew out of matters requiring frequent ap- 
pearance before the United States Supreme Court, and the nomina- 
tion of James Buchanan, a Pennsylvanian and a personal friend, re- 
newed Stanton's interest in the Democratic party, from which he 
had been estranged for some years. Jeremiah S. Black, as soon as 
the nomination of Buchanan had been accomplished, urged him 
to take an open part in the Democratic campaign. This advice was 
followed, and, on March 4, 1857, when the Buchanan administration 
was installed, Stanton found himself on intimate terms with it and 
Attorney-General Black turning important public business into his 
hands. The greatest of these matters is called the California Private 
Land Claims, which grew out of the partition of Mexico by the 
treaty of 1848, and the annexation of the Pacific Coast territory to 
the United States. They numbered over eight hundred and covered 
over twenty thousand square miles of land. 

In 1851 Congress enacted a law providing for a commission 
to hear and determine the claims of those holding real or pretended 
grants from Mexico, with the right of appeal by either party to the 
Federal courts. Under this law claimants began a grand system of 
forgery and perjury for the robbery of the Government, enlisting 
an abundance of capital and the cooperation of many public officials. 
P'inally, the Government was startled by a favorable decision on 
the enormous and fraudulent claim of ]os6 y Limantour — "the 
most stupendous fraud," said Attorney-General Black, "since the 
beginning of the world." The United States district attorney of 
California — Colonel Delia Torre — was ordered to take an appeal 
from the decision, and at the same time Stanton was retained to 
proceed to California as "special counsel of the United States" to 


"do his utmost to protect the interests of the Government." 

With five thousand dollars as a retainer, accompanied by Lieu- 
tenant H. N. Harrison of the navy, James Buchanan, jr. (son of the 
Reverend E. Y. Buchanan of Philadelphia, the President's only 
brother), and his own son Eddie, Stanton sailed from New York in 
the Star of the West, a craft made famous three years later by receiv- 
ign the fire in Charleston harbor of the Confederate forts while 
transporting relief to the Union soldiers in Fort Sumter. Crossing 
the Isthmus of Panama during the prevalence of a fever epidemic, 
he proceeded in a continuous storm on the Pacific Ocean to San 
Francisco. At this time he was suffering severely with asthma, 
which was rendered more acute by the tempestuous voyage. In 
his first letter from the ocean, dated March 2, on the Caribbean Sea, 
to Peter H. Watson, he said : 

I have not suffered a minute from seasickness, nor has Eddie. Almost 
every one else was sick — some very severely. The first few days out, 
the weather was very cold, rough, and disagreeable, which brought on a 
sharp attack of asthma — the hardest I have had. It lasted several days, but 
is gradually disappearing under the genial influence of the tropics. If I 
could have been seasick I think it would have relieved me, and in this re- 
spect I shall not experience one of the benefits anticipated from the voyage. 

Sunday we spent at Kingston, Jamaica, where the ship takes on her 
coal. The scenes at the wharf and at the church — which were the two points 
of observation that I selected — afforded a strange and very interesting ex- 
hibition. Here the extremes of the Jamaican social system were encoun- 

The products of the island have greatly diminished and the estates 
grown ruined and neglected since the Emancipation. The whites say this 
is owing to the oppressive exactions and burthens of the Government, 
which destroy all hope of improvement and repress all exertion. I saw no 
indication of unwillingness in the blacks to labor; but the complaints of 
want of work are very great. I had several applications by smart, active 
fellows to go with me, because, they said, they could get no employment; 
all our passengers had similar applications. 

On the 10th he wrote again : 

I have finished writing out my argument* in the reaper case [McCor- 
mick vs. Manny] and on my arrival at San Francisco will forward it to 
you. The roughness of the sea and the shaking of the ship have pre- 

*Stanton made his great argument in the reaper case before the United 
States Supreme Court wholly without notes or references. Weeks after- 
ward, P. H. Watson requested to be supplied with a copy of it for publica- 
tion, and Stanton, while on the ocean, reproduced it complete from memory. 


vented its being written as well as I could wish, and it has required a 
good deal of correction. I think, however, that with proper care in read- 
ing the proof, no material mistakes can occur. I have also added a title 
page, and an explanatory note. 

In the note I have left a blank for the date of the opinion of the 
Supreme Court and the judge by whom it is delivered. I assume that it 
will be in our favor. 

My health is now very good. For the last three days I have had no 
symptom of my complaint. We are getting out of the hot latitudes. The 
air is delightfully cool, bracing, and luxurious to breathe. My chest and 
lungs feel lighter and better than for several months. Indeed I never was 
in more perfect health or enjoyed life better than for the last two days. 

On Friday, March 19, he w^rote : 

The last forty-eight hours have been the roughest ever known on this 
coast. Night before last was terrific. The sea dashed over our hurricane 
deck, knocked in the ports, poured into the staterooms and frightened 
everybody generally. 

On April 3, he wrote from San Francisco: 

My health has been a good deal improved, but it is not entirely re- 
stored. As soon as I can get leisure I shall go to some of the interior 
valleys, where I hope to become quite well. 

I spend about ten hours every day in examining and arranging Spanish 
documents, letters, records, etc., in the archives office, and as I often have 
to resort to an interpreter, the work is slow. The results, however, are 
more complete than I hoped for, and the investigation already made will, 
I think, insure complete success in the legal objects of my voyage — however 
it may prove on the score of health. 

In his letter of April 18, he thus referred to the Spaniards : 

Everything about this country — its past, present, and future — is full 
of interest. The examination of its early history as developed in the State 
papers and provincial records and official correspondence has entertained me 
very much — especially the Spanish period extending back from 1821 to 1787. 

The old Spaniards were a grand race, and their wonderful administra- 
tive talent has nothing like it at the present day. 

I am in tolerable health, but not entirely restored, having overtaxed 
myself a little the past ten days. 

On the following day he wrote this to his partner, Theo. Umb- 
staetter : 

The climate is very pleasant, the weather uniform. The forenoon is 
delightful, but the sea breeze in the afternoon is chilly. 


The gentlemen society is excellent. I say gentlemen, for the number 
of families is too limited and recent to form an established female so- 
ciety, such as exists in other cities of the same size. There are two gen- 
tlemen's clubs, and club life is here very pleasant. All the gentlemen of the 
city drop in usually of an evening — I mean those who are members. The 
house is large, the rooms spacious and well-furnished, and the air of a 
fashionable assembly of gentlemen prevails. There are several theaters 
which are open Sundays as well as week days; occasionally a fancy danseuse 
makes her appearance. 

The stated preaching of the gospel is also well attended, there being 
several large churches which are thronged every Sunday. At the present 
there is an active revival going on — prayer-meeting every day from 12 to 1 
and from 4 to 5 in all the churches and they are well attended, it is said. I 
can't speak from observation. 

There is a deep, bitter, and revengeful feeling lingering between the 
Vigilantes and the Law and Order parties, and everybody is on one side 
or the other. The markets are excellent, vegetables in abundance and of 
great luxuriance. We have strawberries, green peas, cucumbers, and 
asparagus. The meat and fish market is also very fine. At a dinner Satur- 
day evening we had frogs. They put me in mind of Nardi's;* give him my 

In the foregoing letter Stanton expressed the belief and to 
his wife wrote at the same time that he would be home in six or 
eight weeks. She repeated this promise so that it became public, 
whereupon Judge Black protested, writing: "There is no other 
man living for whom I would have assumed the responsibility I have 
taken with you. You must succeed or prove that success was ut- 
terly impossible. I can't float unless I ride on the wave of your 
reputation, and I want it to roll high." 

A letter of May 2, to Mr. Watson, throws some light on local 
conditions at San Francisco: 

I am still very hard at work. My health seems to continue improving. 
No asthmatic symptoms have troubled me for more than ten days. 

The purpose of my visit will be fully accomplished as far as relates 
to the business under my charge. That has been quite evident from the 
investigations already made, and the proof that has been accumulated 
since my arrival here. There is a good deal of excitement among the parties 
adversely interested, but it evinces itself in nothing more formidable than 
a newspaper squib occasionally; and as no opportunity will be afforded for 
anything else, I hope to get through my employment pleasantly and suc- 

*A. Nardi was the caterer and general manager of the Pittsburg club, 
which had quarters in Shaler and Stanton's building in Pittsburg, with 
whom, for several years, Stanton took his meals. 


Last week I made a very delightful trip around the Bay of San Fran- 
cisco and to the missions of Santa Clara and San Gare, and the quicksilver 
mines. That region of country was more beautiful than any I have ever 
passed through. 

The city is to-day deeply interested in a great race going on, and 
everybody has gone out to the race course to see a man ride 150 miles in 
six hours. To-morrow there is to be a duel, it is said. It grows out of the 
fugitive slave law case, decided since my arrival, and if it takes place, will 
no doubt be a bloody affair. A great deal of murderous feeling is evinced 
on the subject. With all of its advantages of climate, soil, and minerals, 
California is heavily cursed with the bad passions of bad men and I 
would not like to make my permanent abode upon its soil. 

A marvelous thing is now going on here. The mining districts of 
California are being depopulated by the rush of emigration to the British 
possessions on Frazer's River. Most disastrous results must follow in Cali- 
fornia for a season. Nor is it any delusion. There can be no doubt of 
the richness of the gold fields there. 

On August 19, he must have been homesick: 

I have fixed the 22d of September as the date of departure, and I am 
hurrying with impatience to be home. If I reach there in safety, nothing 
shall induce me to wander off again. Nothing but health would have 
tempted me on this occasion. That I have regained — whether perma- 
nently or not, time only can show. I have seen much, learned much, and 
have idled away no time. To be at home with family and friends is now 
the desire of my heart. 

On September 3, he wrote: 

In July I had no doubt of being able to leave here by the steamer 
that takes this letter, but the business here is so great that it is impossible 
to calculate on time beforehand. On Monday I shall close the evidence in 
the Limantour case, for which I came. And after that there will remain 
very little more to be done than count the dead and bury them. 

For the last few years a set of Mexicans has been plundering the United 
States at the rate of a million a year without any questions being asked. 
Having determined to throw a brick at them, I shall stay to see where 
it hits. 

On November 25 he wrote: "Judgment has been entered in 
favor of the United States in all my cases and my work is done." 

His work was "done" in California only, as he learned when 
the cases were reopened on appeal in the Supreme Court of the 
United States; and his task, more complicated and prolonged than 
he had expected, continued to hold him in California. 

Met at the outset by a most extraordinary maze of forgery 


and perjury, and unable to find the original grants, he formulated 
and sent to Washington two bills which were enacted into laws 
(May, 1858) — one to compel the production of land papers and 
records, and the other punishing the fabrication of claims or docu- 
ments in support thereof. Armed with these, he instituted a per- 
sonal search of all the archives on the California coast and was re- 
warded by discovering not only the original grants, but the corre- 
spondence showing the fraudulent character of the great Liman- 
tour claim. The fraud was defeated; Limantour, abandoned by 
his lawyers, was indicted and fled the country; and all the spurious 
grants, including that covering the great Alameda quicksilver mine, 
were defeated. 

Before returning (in January, 1859) he gathered and digested 
the Spanish and Mexican land laws and decisions and the docu- 
ments relating to grants and reversions which, found in over four 
hundred volumes, are now a very valuable part of the Government 

His fee was twenty-five thousand dollars and the Government 
paid his expenses to, from, and in California.* A quarter of a million 
dollars would not have been unreasonable compensation, for he pre- 
vented a stupendous robbery of the Government and of San Fran- 
cisco; saved the administration from disgrace; won where every- 
body else had failed ; settled the land titles of California ; and 
changed the character of Pacific coast civilization. 

*The passage from New York to San Francisco cost $300; boarding, 
lodging, washing, etc., at the International Hotel, from March 19, 1858, to 
January 2, 1859, $1,102.88; passage of Stanton, Lieut. Harrison, and James 
Buchanan, jr., from San Francisco to New York, $851.25; transporting bag- 
gage across the Isthmus of Panama, $25.60. 


Stanton left San Francisco on the morning of January 3, 1859, 
and was with his family in Washington during the first days of Feb- 
ruary, having been absent a week less than a year. His asthma was 
comatose and his general health greatly improved ; but he had not 
become fully rested when, on Sunday, February 27, 1859, Daniel E. 
Sickles, member of Congress from the city of New York, in front 
of his residence in Washington, shot and killed Philip Barton Key, 
exclaiming: "Key, you scoundrel, you have dishonored my home; 
you must die." 

Sickles — talented, handsome, and dashing — had resided, when 
first married, in the household of James Buchanan in London, his 
host being then United States Minister at the court of St. James, 
and himself Secretary of Legation. His wife, of Latin origin, the 
daughter of the composer Baglioli, had deep, dark, lustrous eyes and, 
at twenty-three, "was remarkable for something especially soft, 
lovely, and youthful in the type of her peculiar beauty." Key, son of 
the author of the "Star Spangled Banner," was tall, polite, talented, 
polished, and a widower. His sister was married to George H, 
Pendleton of Ohio; his father's only sister was the wife of Chief 
Justice Roger B. Taney, and he himself had been for some time 
United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. The social, 
official, and political prominence of the parties involved gave the 
tragedy great significance. 

On Thursday following the grand jury brought in an indict- 
ment against Sickles for murder, and on April 4, following, the trial 
began with Stanton as senior attorney for the defense. Although 
the property qualification for jurors, as established by the laws of 
Maryland in 1777, had for years been a dead letter in the District 
of Columbia, Prosecutor Robert Ould brought it up in this case for 
the purpose of debarring from jury service citizens against whom no 
other objections would lie. Stanton made a strong endeavor to 


have that barbaric rule left where it had lain so many years undis- 
turbed, but the Court sustained the prosecuting attorney, and no one 
who could not swear that he owned property in the District valued 
at eight hundred dollars above his debts, was allowed to serve. 

One peculiarity of the trial was admitting testimony and rul- 
ings from the trial of a colored slave woman in North Carolina for 
the purpose of excluding written evidence favorable to Sickles, and 
during the next moment ruling out the testimony of a free colored 
woman which was known to be unfavorable to Key! Stanton con- 
tended that the "prosecution, in their thirst for blood, had not only 
forgotten the institution of slavery, but modern society and law as 
well." J. M. Carlisle, a very able attorney, attempted to gain favor 
with the jury, most of whom were slave-holders, by assailing Stan- 
ton for making what he called an "anti-slavery speech," but there 
was hearty applause when Stanton retorted in a loud voice : "The 
doctrines which I have maintained here to-day in defense of homes 
and families will be the proudest record I can leave to my children." 
Hitherto negroes had been allowed to testify in the District of 
Columbia, but Judge Crawford refused to admit the evidence of 
any colored person in this trial, as otherwise there would be placed 
on record the inculpating testimony of Negro Gray, in whose house, 
rented for the express purpose. Key held clandestine meetings with 
Mrs. Sickles. 

The case was fought tenaciously. On the eighteenth day Stan- 
ton began to sum up for the defense, a distinguished audience crowd- 
ing the court-room. A portion of his address, which was rugged 
and powerful throughout, is reproduced* from the official steno- 
graphic notes of Felix G. Fontaine : 

Family chastity, the sanctity of the marriage bed, the matron's honor, 
and the virgin's purity are more valuable and estimable in law than the 
property or life of any man. The present case belongs to that class on 
which rest the foundations of the social system. Here in the capital of the 
nation, the social and political metropolis of thirty millions of people, a man 
of mature age, the head of a family, a member of the learned profession, 
a high officer of Government, intrusted with the administration of the law, 
and who for years at this bar has demanded judgment of fine, imprison- 
ment, and death against other men for ofifenses against the law, has him- 
self been slain in open day in a public place because he took advantage of 

*The full speech appears as the 10th selection in Snyder's "Great 
Speeches by Great Lawyers," a volume containing the world's best exam- 
ples of learning, logic, eloquence, truth, justice, and power in oratory. 


the hospitality of a sojourner in this city. Received into his family, he 
debauched his house, violated the bed of his host, and dishonored his family. 
On this ground alone, the deed of killing was committed. * * * 

"What God hath joined together let no man put asunder." By mar- 
riage, the woman is sanctified to the husband and this bond must be pre- 
served for the evil as well as for the good. It is the blessing of the marital 
institution that it weans men from their sins and draws them to the per- 
formance of their duties. This seal of the nuptial vow is no idle cere- 
mony. Thenceforth the law commands the adulterer to beware of disturb- 
ing their peace. It commands that no man shall look on woman and lust 
after her. 

The penalty for disobedience to that injunction did not originate in 
human statutes; it was written in the heart of man in the Garden of Eden, 
where the first family was planted, and where the woman was made bone of 
man's bone, flesh of man's flesh. No wife yields herself to the adulterer 
till he has weaned her love from her husband; she revolts from her obe- 
dience and serves the husband no longer. When her body has once been 
surrendered to the adulterer, she longs for the death of her husband, whose 
life is often sacrificed by the cup of the poisoner, or the dagger or pistol 
of the assassin. The next greatest tie is that of parent and child. 
If in God's providence a man has not only watched over the cradle of his 
child but over the grave of his offspring, and has witnessed earth com- 
mitted to earth, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, he knows that the love 
of a parent for his child is stronger than death. The bitter lamentation — 
"Would to God I had died for thee" — has been wrung from many a parent's 
heart. But when the adulterer's shadow comes between the parent and the 
child, it casts over both a gloom darker than the grave. What agony is 
equal to his who knows not whether the children gathered around his 
board are his own offspring or an adulterer's brood, hatched in his bed. To 
the child it is still more disastrous. Nature designs that children shall 
have the care of both parents; the mother's care is the chief blessing to 
her child — a mother's honor a priceless inheritance. But when an adulterer 
enters a family the child is deprived of the care of one parent, perhaps 
of both. 

When death, in God's providence, strikes a mother from the family, 
the deepest grief that preys upon a husband's heart is the loss of her nur- 
ture and example to his orphan child; and the sweetest conversation be- 
tween parent and child is when they talk of the beloved mother who is 
gone. How can a father name a lost mother to his child, and how can a 
daughter hear that mother's name without a blush? Death is merciful 
compared to the pitiless cruelty of him whose lust has stained the fair 
brow of innocent childhood by corrupting the heart of the mother, whose 
example must stain the daughter's life. 

The pride and glory of the family is its band of brothers and sisters. 
Sprung from the same love, with the same blood coursing in their veins, 
their hearts are bound together by a cord which death cannot sever; for 
wide asunder as may be the graves of a household, varied as may be their 
paths on earth, when life's rough ocean is passed, sooner or later they will 


rejoice on the heavenly coast — a family in heaven. But when the adulterer 
puts a young wife asunder from her husband, her child is cut off from 
all kindred fellowship. The companionship and protection of a brother of 
the same blood can never be hers. No sister of the same blood can ever 
share her sorrow or her joy. Alone thenceforth, she must journey through 
life, bowed down with a mother's shame. Nor does the evil stop here. 
It reaches up to the aged and venerable parents of the wretched husband 
and of the ruined wife and stretches through the circles of relatives and 
friends that cluster around every hearth. Such are the results of that 
adulterer's crime on the home — on the home, not as it is painted by the 
poet's fancy, but as it is known and recognized by the law — as it exists in 
the household, and as it belongs to the family of every man. They show 
that the adulterer is the foe of every social relation, the destroyer of every 
domestic affection, the fatal enemy of the family, and the destroyer of the 
home. The crime belongs to the class known in law as mala in se — evil in 
itself — fraught with ruin to individuals and destruction to society. 

Such being its nature, we can easily perceive why it is that in Holy 
Writ the crime of the adulterer is pronounced to be one which admits 
of no ransom and no recompense. We can perceive why it is that in every 
book of the Old and New Testaments it is denounced; why it is that by 
every law-giver, prophet, and saint, it is condemned. 

We can understand why it is that twice it is forbidden in the Ten Com- 
mandments, and why it is that Jehovah himself, from the tabernacle in the 
midst of the congregation, declared that "the man who committeth adultery 
with another man's wife, shall surely be put to death." By God's ordinance 
he was to be stoned to death, so that every family in Israel, every man, 
woman, and child might have a hand in the punishment of the common 
enemy of the family! 

What is adultery? It cannot be limited to the fleeting moment of sexual 
contact; that would be a mockery, for then the adulterer would ever es- 
cape. But law and reason mock not human nature with any such vain 
absurdity. The act of adultery, like the act of murder, is supposed to in- 
clude every proximate act in furtherance of, and as a means to, the con- 
summation of the wife's pollution. This is an established principle in 
American and English law, established from the time of Lord Stowell. If 
the adulterer be found in the husband's bed, he is taken in the act, within 
the meaning of the law, as if he were found in the wife's arms. If he 
provide a place for the express purpose of committing adultery with another 
man's wife, and be found leading her, accompanying her, or following 
her to that place for that purpose, he is taken in the act. If he not only 
provides but habitually keeps such a place, and is accustomed by precon- 
certed signals to entice the wife from the husband's house, to besiege her 
in the streets to accompany him to the vile den; and if after giving such 
preconcerted signals, he be found watching her, spy-glass in hand, and 
lying in wait around a husband's house, that the wife may join him for 
that guilty purpose, he is taken in the act. 

If a man hire a house, furnish it, provide a bed in it for such a purpose, 
and if he be accustomed, day by day, week by week, and month by month, 


to entice her from her husband's house, to tramp her through the streets to 
that den of shame, it is an act of adultery, and is the most appalling one 
that is recorded in the annals of shame. If, moreover, he has grown so bold 
as to take the child of the injured husband, a little daughter, by the hand, 
to separate her from her mother, to take the child to the house of a mu- 
tual friend while, he leads the mother to the guilty den, in order there to 
enjoy her, it presents a case surpassing all that has ever been written of 
cold, villainous, remorseless lust! 

If this be not the culminating point of adulterous depravity, how much 
farther could it go? There is one point beyond; the wretched mother, the 
ruined wife, has not yet plunged into the horrible filth of common pros- 
titution, to which she is rapidly hurrying, and which is already yawning 
before her. Shall not the mother be saved from that, and how shall it 
be done? When a man has obtained such power over another man's wife 
that he cannot only entice her from her husband's house, but separate her 
from her child for the purpose of guilt, it shows that by some means he 
has acquired such an unholy mastery over that woman's body and soul that 
there is no chance of saving her while he lives, and the only hope of her 
salvation is that God's swift vengeance shall overtake him. 

The sacred glow of well-placed domestic aflfection, no man knows 
better than your Honor, grows brighter and brighter as years advance; 
and the faithful couple whose hands were joined in holy wedlock in the 
morning of youth find their hearts drawn closer to each other as they 
descend the hill of life to sleep at its foot; but lawless love is as short- 
lived as it is criminal, and the neighbor's wife, so hotly pursued by tramp- 
ling down every human feeling and Divine law, is speedily supplanted by 
the object of some fresher lust, then the wretched victim is sure to be 
soon cast oflf in common prostitution and swept through a miserable life 
and a horrible death to the gates of hell — unless a husband's arm shall 
save her. 

Who, seeing this thing, would not exclaim to the unhappy husband: 
"Hasten, hasten, hasten to save the mother of your child! Although she 
be lost as a wife, rescue her from the horrid adulterer; and may the 
Lord who watches over the home and family, guide the bullet and direct 
the stroke!" [The audience broke into uproarious applause which the officers 
of the court vainly endeavored to check.] 

When she is delivered, who would not reckon the salvation of that 
young mother cheaply purchased by the adulterer's blood? Aye, by the 
blood of a score of adulterers. The death of Key was a cheap sacrifice to 
save one mother from the horrible fate, which on that Sabbath day hung 
over this prisoner's wife and the mother of his child. 

By the American law, the husband is always present by his wife; his 
arm is always by her side; and his wing is ever over her. The consent of 
the wife cannot in any degree affect the question of the adulterer's guilt, 
and if he be slain in the act by the husband, then it is justifiable homicide. 
By the contemplation of law the wife is always in the husband's presence, 
always under his wing; and any movement against her person is a move- 
ment against his rights and may be resisted as such. 


We place the ground of defense here on the same ground and limited 
by the same means as the right of personal defense. If a man be assailed, 
his power to slay the assailant is not limited to the moment when the mortal 
blow is about to be given; he is not bound to wait till his life is on the 
very point of being taken; but any movement toward the foul purpose 
plainly indicated justifies him in the right of self-defense, and in slaying 
the assailant on the spot. The theory in our case is, that here wa's a man 
living in a constant state of adultery with the prisoner's wife; a man who 
was daily by a moral, no, by an immoral power — a power enormous, mon- 
strous and altogether unparalleled in the history of American society, or in 
the history of the family of man — over the being of this woman, calling her 
from her husband's house, dragging her day by day through the streets in 
order that he might gratify his lust. The husband beholds him in the 
very act of withdrawing his wife from his roof, from his presence, from his 
arm, from his wing, from his nest — meets him in the act and slays him. 
And we say that the right to slay him stands on the firmest principles of 

Prolonged and enthusiastic applause greeted Stanton at the 
close of his address, which the court was unable to suppress. On 
the twentieth day of the trial the case was submitted to the jury, 
who within an hour returned with a verdict of not guilty. The au- 
dience, rising, cheered vociferously as Sickles and Stanton passed 
out to their carriage.* 

*Sickles, whose love and friendship for Stanton never abated, took 
his beautiful young wife again to his arms, and a son boni to him by his 
second wife was named Stanton Sickles. 


The trial of Sickles had hardly ended before Stanton reentered 
the reaping-machine litigation as attorney for Obed Hussey, who 
sued C. H. McCormick for infringement of his patent upon the 
scalloped sickle and open fingers of the cutter-bar of a harvester. 
In behalf of his client he visited Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, and 
other cities, making an argument before Justice McLean and Judge 
Drummond and winning his case. 

In May, 1859, while the reaper suits were pending, he won 
what is said to be the first successful suit to compel a municipal 
corporation to pay interest on railway bonds which it had guaran- 
teed as a bonus to promote the construction of the bonded road. 
The suit was brought against Pittsburg in 1858 by Oelrichs and 
Company of New York City, holders of guaranteed bonds, and was 
concluded in the United States court in favor of the plaintiffs. 

In October, 1859, he purchased seven thousand three hundred 
and fifty square feet of land on the north side of K Street fronting 
Primrose Hill (now Franklin Square) in Washington, for five 
thousand eight hundred and eighty dollars. The location is one of 
the choicest in the national capital. Thereon, partly with money 
given to Mrs. Stanton by her father, and according to her plans, a 
large brick and stone house was erected and occupied in 1860. 

William Stanton Buchanan, who grew up with him, says: 
"Stanton loved with an everlasting love the friends of his youth and 
the place of his birth." That is true. At the same time that he 
erected the Washington residence, he purchased for three thousand 
five hundred dollars the large Andrews house in Steubenville, in 
which his first wife had died and which he had since maintained as 
a home for his mother, the widow and children of his brother Dar- 
win, and his sister Oella and her children. He thought that, when 


the stormier period of life had passed, he might desire to return to 
Steubenville to rest and to die. 

In the meantime, during 1860, the leading claimants who had 
been defeated by him in California, appealed their cases, and he 
was preparing for their argument or arguing them before the United 
States Supreme Court. Thus with reaper cases, railroad suits, the 
California land claims, and other litigation, his time was occupied 
within his office almost night and day, while without the nation 
was racked by a heated, five-sided presidential contest. The can- 
didates were Lincoln and Hamlin, Douglas and Johnson, Bell and 
Everett, Breckinridge and Lane, and Sam Houston and "his old 
Indian blanket." 

Personally he was friendly with and esteemed the candidate 
for president on the Southern ticket, Vice-President Breckinridge, 
but thought he ought not, for the sake of the nation, being a sec- 
tional nominee, to win. He knew little of the Republican nominee, 
but, fearing that the radical abolition leaders who were supporting 
him could not be more effectually restrained than the ultra State- 
Sovereignty adherents of Breckinridge, believed that Lincoln, too, 
ought to be defeated. He hoped that the election of Douglas, who 
was not particularly in favor with either the pro-slavery or anti- 
slavery faction, might be a golden mean to avert present dis- 
aster, permit the nation to cool down, and lead its contending sec- 
tions to come to a peaceable and perhaps ultimately satisfactory 

However, he frequently expressed the opinion that "Lincoln 
would be victorious by a narrow margin and become a minority 
president," concluding a business letter to his Pittsburg partner, 
Charles Shaler, on July 2, 1860, thus : "There is much suppressed 
excitement over the political situation. The Democrats are so en- 
tirely divided that none of their candidates can win, in my opinion. 
The Western railsplitter will be technically elected, and we shall 
see great dissension." 

Lincoln carried 17 States, receiving 180 electoral and 1,866,352 
popular votes ; Breckinridge carried 11 States, receiving 72 electoral 
votes and 845,763 popular votes ; Douglas carried 2 States, receiving 
12 electoral and 1,375,157 popular votes ; Bell carried 3 States, re- 
ceiving 39 electoral and 589,581 popular votes ; Houston and "his old 
Indian blanket" were forgotten. 

James Buchanan. 

Lewis Cass, 
Secreta)y of State. 

El)\\ I\ M '^l \\TC1N, 
Attonnv u.ihral. 

Gen. J. A. Dix, 

Secretary of the Treasury. 

Jeremiah S. Black, Howell Corr, 

Secretary of State. Secretary of the Treasury. 

President Buchanan and Members of His Cabinet. 


In South Carolina the electors were chosen by the legislature, 
so that, practically, Lincoln received 1,000,000 less of the popular 
suffrages than the opposition. He was to be what Stanton pre- 
dicted, "a minority president," and the South began active prepa- 
rations to withdraw from the Union. 


Amid great public excitement and a rapid culmination of start- 
ling events, Stanton went to Pittsburg soon after election to try 
the case of Fox vs. the Hempfield Railway Company in the United 
States circuit court. While thus engaged, a message from Judge 
J. S. Black requested him to return at once to Washington, as the 
President wished to nominate him for attorney-general. It therefore 
becomes necessary to make a partial examination of the heated 
and violent surroundings into which he was thus unexpectedly flung. 

On the day before election Governor W. H. Gist called the 
legislature of South Carolina to convene in extraordinary session 
on the following day and continue in session until it should be 
known whether Lincoln had been elected president; and, "in the 
event of such election that the services of ten thousand volunteers 
be immediately accepted," as "the only alternative left, in his judg- 
ment, was the secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union." 
Lincoln was elected and the Stars and Stripes, even on the shipping 
in Charleston harbor, were everywhere displaced by the Palmetto 
Flag of South Carolina, and military preparations rushed forward 
with enthusiasm. 

On November 9, Buchanan met his cabinet in a long and ex- 
cited session. He held that a State possessed the technical right 
to withdraw from the Union, and on that subject occurred the 
first serious division in his political household, Lewis Cass, secre- 
tary of state, threatening to resign. In this dilemma he appealed 
to Stanton, then assistant attorney-general, who converted him to 
the theory that the United States is a nation, and prepared an ar- 
gument in support of that theory for insertion in the forthcoming 
annual message to Congress, The argument being accepted and 
incorporated in the message, Stanton left for Pittsburg, as above 

During his absence and two days before the meeting of Con- 


gress (on December 3) "Buchanan was frightened into expunging 
from his message the assertion of the power to coerce a State in re- 
bellion, and induced to insert in its place the contrary doctrine,"* 
says Henry L. Dawes, who "obtained his information from Stan- 
ton himself." 

Secretary Cass appealed to Buchanan to reinforce the forts in 
Charleston harbor and place the Federal property in the extreme 
slave States in the best possible condition of defense. Buchanan 
was unable to comply, having already (on December 9) entered into 
an agreement, stated in writing, with the congressmen from South 
Carolina that he would hold everything in check while the South 
was preparing for disunion. 

The resignation of Cass followed on the 12th of December. 
Black was appointed to be his successor and Stanton, to succeed 
Black was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, the 20th. Fran- 
cis E. Spinner, then a member of Congress, says : "A committee 
headed by Edwin D. Morgan and myself investigated Mr. Stanton 
after his nomination. We found him all right — an ardent friend 
of the Union and ready to defend it at all hazards, with force of 
arms if necessary." 

On the day that Cass resigned, Jacob Thompson of Mississippi, 
secretary of the interior, told Buchanan that he was going to 
Raleigh as commissioner from his State to induce North Carolina 
to secede from the Union, and the President replied that he wished 
him to go and hoped that he might succeed." Thompson held a 
public reception before the State legislature and then returned to 
his place in the cabinet and to the arms of the President If 

On the 18th Buchanan despatched Caleb Cushing secretly to 
Governor Pickens, who had succeeded Gist as executive of South 
Carolina, with a proposition to postpone further open secession 
operations until after the inauguration of Lincoln, agreeing, if 

*Jefiferson Davis says ("Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government," 
page 57) that he "was called from Mississippi to Washington by messages 
from two of Buchanan's cabinet to supervise and give direction to the 
President's forthcoming message," and that Buchanan "very kindly ac- 
cepted all the modifications suggested." 

fin "Speeches and Writings of T. L. Clingman," page 26, Mr. Cling- 
man says: "I could not help exclaiming: 'Was there ever before a poten- 
tate who sent out his own cabinet ministers to incite an insurrection 
gainst his own government?'" 


Pickens would accede to the request, to send no reinforcements 
of men or munitions to Charleston and permit no change in the 
condition of other Southern forts (that would be inimical to se- 
cession) ; but the mission failed. 

During the day on which Stanton was sworn in, South Caro- 
lina unanimously passed the ordinance of secession and wheeled 
out of the Union. Thus the force intended to break up and the 
genius foreordained to save the Union appeared simultaneously in 
the arena. 

On the same day orders were made by Colonel Henry E. 
Maynadier, chief of the Ordnance Department, directing the com- 
mandant of Allegheny Arsenal, Pittsburg, to ship to the forts at 
Ship Island and Galveston, Gulf of Mexico, one hundred and thir- 
teen columbiads and eleven 32-pounders for the armament of those 
fortifications. Major John Symington of Maryland, in charge of 
the arsenal, began preparations to carry the orders into effect. Six 
of the larger guns had been dragged to the wharf and four of them 
hoisted to the deck of the Silver Wave on Friday, December 28, 
when a great mass-meeting assembled in front of the court-house 
in Pittsburg to protest. General William Robinson presided, open- 
ing with a patriotic address, which was followed by speeches of like 
tenor from Judge Charles Shaler (Stanton's law partner) and others. 

Being advised* of what was transpiring at Pittsburg, Stanton 
inquired of the Secretary of War concerning it and was met with the 
statement that there was "no information on file touching the 
matter." From the War Office he proceeded to Buchanan, "who 
evinced neither surprise nor concern," merely saying that he had 
given no "official" sanction to such an order, although Secretary 
Floyd declared that the President knew the order was to be issued 
and "advised that it be done in such a manner as not to arouse sus- 
picion !" 

On Thursday, January 3, 1861, Stanton telegraphed to the 
mayor, George Wilson, that the order had been officially rescinded 
by Secretary Holt, who had just succeeded Floyd, and received a 

♦Robert T. Hunt of Pittsburg, who was in Shaler, Stanton, and 
Umbstaetter's office in that city, says: "Judge Shaler telegraphed to Stan- 
ton the situation. I wrote the telegram for him and carried it to the tele- 
graph office. I thmk Stanton acted on that telegram. At any rate he re- 
plied, and the shipment of cannon was stopped." 


vote of thanks on the following evening from the Pittsburg city 

In the meantime (December 23), Governor Pickens had sent to 
W. H. Trescot, w^ho left the post of assistant secretary of state to 
become the agent of South Carolina in Washington, a telegram stat- 
ing that R. W. Barnwell, J. E. Adams, and James L. Orr had been 
"appointed commissioners by the convention to proceed immediately 
to Washington to present the ordinance of secession and to nego- 
tiate in reference to the evacuation of the forts and other matters 
growing out of the act of secession." Trescot laid this information 
before the President, thus giving him ample time to consult his 
cabinet and adopt a course of procedure, which, however, he did 
not do. 

On the 26th the commissioners arrived, and the President, 
without reservation as to manner or form, agreed to meet them at 
1 o'clock of the following day. In fact he could make no reserva- 
tion. He had agreed on the 9th to keep the military status un- 
changed until commissioners should be appointed and come to 
treat with him in reference to breaking up the Union and dividing 
the Federal debts and property, and they had arrived in accordance 
with and to carry out the terms of that agreement. 

On that day (December 26) Stanton wrote to W. B. Copeland, 
Pittsburg, a friend of his childhood, in response to a letter of con- 
gratulation : 

I am deeply penetrated by the kindness manifested by your note, re- 
ceived this morning. 

After much hesitation and serious reflection, I resolved to accept 
the post to which in my absence I was called, in the hope of doing some- 
thing to save this Government. I AM WILLING TO PERISH IF 

We are in God's hands and His almighty arm alone can save us from 
greater misery than has ever fallen upon a nation. I devoutly pray for 
His help; all men should pray for succor in this hour. No effort of mine 
shall be spared. 

Early in the morning of the 27th the commissioners learned 
that Major Robert Anderson had, on the evening of the 26th, aban- 
doned Fort Moultrie, spiking the guns behind him, and occupied 
Fort Sumter. Their secretary, Mr. Trescot, immediately laid 
this information before Senators R, M. T. Hunter of Virginia, and 


Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, who, joining him, drove quickly to 
the White House. 

The President exclaimed, on hearing the news: "My God, are 
calamities never to come singly? I call God to witness that you 
gentlemen, better than anybody, know that this is not only with- 
out but against my orders. It is against my policy." 

He was strongly urged to say that he would "replace matters as 
he had pledged himself they should remain," and, says Trescot, "he 
at first seemed disposed to declare that he would restore the status ; 
then hesitated and said he must call his cabinet together, as he could 
not condemn Major Anderson unheard." Davis, Hunter, and Tres- 
cot, together with Floyd,* who subsequently came in, pressed 
Buchanan with great vigor, but failed because the President had "no 
official information" on which to base his action. However, he ad- 
journed the appointment to meet the commissioners formally 
until the next day, hoping to "be able to accommodate them then." 

Before the cabinet reconvened next day Floyd received an of- 
ficial telegram from Major Anderson confirming the news brought 
by the South Carolina commissioners and announcing that he had 
"abandoned Moultrie because he was certain that if attacked he 
must have been reinforced or the command of the harbor lost." An- 
derson was condemned by Buchanan, Thomas, Thompson, and 
Toucey. Stanton disagreed strenuously, exclaiming : "Mr, Presi- 
dent, it is my duty as your legal adviser to say that you have no 
right to give up the property of the Government, or abandon its sol- 
diers to its enemies ; and the course proposed [to give up Sumter 

*Floyd came in by request and as he departed, left this paper with 

Council Chamber, Executive Mansion. 
Mr. President: 

It is evident now from the action of the commander at Fort Moultrie 
that the solemn pledges of this Government have been violated by the action of 
Major Anderson. In my judgment but one remedy is now left us by which 
to vindicate our honor and prevent civil war. It is in vain now to hope for 
confidence on the part of the people of South Carolina in any further 
pledges, as to the action of the military. One remedy only is left and that 
is, to withdraw the garrison from the harbor of Charleston altogether. I 
hope the President will allow me to make that order at once. This order, 
in my judgment, can alone prevent blood-shed and civil war. 

John B. Floyd. 
December 27, 1860. 

Benjamin McCuli.och. 

John H. Reac 


and abandon Major Anderson] is treason and, if followed, will in- 
volve you and all concerned in it in treason." 

Nevertheless Buchanan met the commissioners on the 28th, ac- 
cording to agreement. R. W. Barnwell (chairman) laid stress on 
the fact that the written arrangement of the 9th between the Presi- 
dent and the South Carolina congressmen (to make no interference 
with secession) had been observed in good faith by the people of 
his State, and that there was no way by which the "violated and 
forfeited faith" of the President could be restored except to promptly 
return Anderson and his command to Fort Moultrie. Three times 
Barnwell declared : "Mr. President, your personal honor is involved. 
The faith you pledged has been violated and your personal honor 
requires that you issue that order at once." 

The President wavered for some time, but, without question, 
would have redeemed his pledge to the secessionists if he had not 
been, as James L. Orr says, "previously screwed up and terrorized 
by Mr. Stanton, his new attorney-general." The commissioners, on 
retiring, handed to the President an elaborate paper, officially signed 
by all of them, giving a full and accurate copy of all secession nego- 
tiations and agreements with him, and begging him to make an 
explanation of his violation of those agreements in order to avoid 
bringing "to a bloody issue questions which ought to be settled 
with temperance and judgment." To this paper Buchanan prom- 
ised a full reply in writing. 

As the commissioners withdrew Stanton, accompanied by Gen- 
eral Scott^ called to see the President. Turning to Scott, Stanton 
inquired : 

"General, will you tell us exactly what position Major Ander- 
son is in from a military point of view?" 

"Major Anderson was right in leaving Moultrie," answered 
Scott. "Sumter is the stronger fortress. In that two hundred men 
can repel South Carolina and six hundred defy the world." 

"Then," earnestly said Stanton to the President, "I hope you 
will forward those six hundred at once," but they were not sent, al- 
though there were nine hundred trained soldiers at Watervliet Ar- 
senal, near Albany, and in the vicinity of New York, of whom six 
hundred were instantly available. 



To the letter left with him by the commissioners, who styled 
themselves "ambassadors," Buchanan prepared a full reply yielding 
in the main the points they demanded. The proceeding was start- 
ling to Stanton, who exclaimed : 

These gentlemen claim to be ambassadors. It is preposterous! They 
cannot be ambassadors; they are law-breakers, traitors. They should be 
arrested. You cannot negotiate with them; and yet it seems by this paper 
that you have been led into doing that very thing. With all respect to you, 
Mr. President, I must say that the Attorney-General, under his oath of 
office, dares not be cognizant of the pending proceedings. Your reply to 
these so-called ambassadors must not be transmitted as the reply of the 
President. It is wholly unlawful and improper; its language is unguarded 
and to send it as an official document will bring the President to the verge 
of usurpation. 

As this stormy meeting broke up, Floyd handed in his resigna- 
tion because the President was no longer keeping his "solemn 
pledges and plighted faith," and was succeeded, as already stated, 
by Joseph Holt. 

Judge Holt says Stanton's "characterization of the South Caro- 
lina commissioners as law-breakers and traitors was not aimed at 
them but at Buchanan, whose relations with those gentlemen had 
just begun to dawn upon him." They were not "traitors" in the 
sense in which the term is generally used, because they had 
been invited to Washington to segregate the property, alienate a 
portion of the territory, and violate the integrity of the United 
States by the very person who had just made Stanton a member of 
the cabinet — President Buchanan himself! Therefore, if they were 
traitors, Buchanan was a traitor; if they were conspirators, 
Buchanan was an arch-conspirator — for was he not President of 
the United States, solemnly sworn to prevent the very thing he had 
asked these commissioners or ambassadors into the White House 
to consummate ? 


During the evening of this day of storm and violence Stanton 
met Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts, who had been called 
hastily to Washington to confer with leading Democrats "on the 
state of the Union." Going over the situation of December, 1860, 
Mr, Butler says: 

I knew Mr. Stanton. He related fully to me the proceedings of the pre- 
liminary meeting between the President and the South Carolina commis- 
sioners and of the scene in the cabinet consultation, which he had just left. 
He was full of wrath. He said that I must go to both Black and Buchanan 
and protest against the fatal course the administration was pursuing. He 
told me that the so-called ambassadors had actually rented a house in 
Washington — which I subsequently learned was a fact — expecting to re- 
main permanently as representatives of the South as a foreign nation. 
He said that he had informed the President that the South Carolina agents 
were traitors; that the President had no power to negotiate with them, 
and that I must tell the President that if he should continue negotiating 
with traitors he would place himself on the same plane with traitors and 
be liable to impeachment if not something worse. He advised me also 
that he would seek Black that evening and prepare, as attorney-general, 
an objection to the President's communication to the so-called ambassa- 

I was deeply impressed by his aggressive manner and the grave facts 
he disclosed. It was audacious to obey his request to personally advise 
the President what he should do, but the more I thought of it, the more 
important it seemed, and I went. On returning, I found Judge Black at 
Willard's Hotel and suggested to him that any officer negotiating with 
these gentlemen from South Carolina might be getting his neck into a 
halter. He was frightened by that color of affairs. I do not think he had 
appreciated the full significance of the situation, as I know I had not be- 
fore listening to Stanton, whose head was clear and who turned the whole 
course of events at that time and prevented a disgraceful chapter in our 
history. Black, too, changed, and when we were through our conversa- 
tion, took his carriage and drove away to see Stanton. 

Butler also advised Black to have the South Carolina commis- 
sioners indicted, and offered his services gratis for their prosecu- 
tion in case of their arrest. John A. (Bowie-Knife) Potter of Wis- 
consin, a member of Congress at that time, says Stanton "outlined 
facts for the Dawes committee as a basis for articles of impeach- 
ment of President Buchanan if such a course should become neces- 
sary, being greatly disturbed lest the Executive should cede away 
the Union and destroy the Government," and Major A. E. H. 
Johnson (then a clerk in Watson's office) says Stanton "spent 


hours consulting with P. H. Watson about laws covering im- 

The hour was one of extreme tension and great national peril. 
Next morning (following the interview of the commissioners with 
the President) Buchanan was informed that if the attitude of the 
administration toward the secessionists and its relations with them 
should not be changed, Stanton and Black would resign. He 
quickly sent for those two stalwarts and advised them that he 
"could have no further disruption of his official household" and 
had "decided to revamp the communication to the gentlemen from 
South Carolina." "Then," says Judge Holt, "he handed the draft 
of his reply to the South Carolina Commissioners over to the At- 
torney-General [Stanton] and requested him to prepare any legal 
objections there might be to its clauses," confirmation of which is 
found in the following letter to General William Robinson of Pitts- 

Private. ' Washington City, 30th December, 1860. 

Dear Sir: 

I am truly grateful for your hearty message of good will and congratu- 
lation and for your promise that the State of Pennsylvania can be relied 
on for whatever aid may be needed to preserve our imperiled Union. 

We are enveloped in a great deal of dust and fog, but the smudge is 
not so thick that I cannot distinctly discern treason all around us. 

Judge Black and myself have been dumbfounded by a meeting of the 
President, as President, with the so-called South Carolina commissioners. 
At first we agreed to resign at once, but after going carefully over the sub- 
ject thought it better to state our objections or views in writing before tak- 
ing any step that might later be considered precipitate. 

Judge Black is closer to the President than myself and exercises a 
great deal of influence over him. He will present the written objections, 
which I have just prepared, and stand by for the purpose of extricating the 
President from his present peril. 

If he [Buchanan] shall refuse to recede, it seems to me there is no 
escape for Black, Holt, and myself except resignation. 

I tremble to think that the administration is already semi-officially com- 
mitted to the theory that South Carolina is an independent nation or "re- 
public" capable of negotiating treaties; and if that theory shall not be com- 
pletely broken down, followed by reinforcements to hold our beleaguered 
and threatened Southern forts, there will not be a semblance of the Union 
left on March 4, next. 

I fear that your offer of help on the part of Pennsylvania may be founded on a 
necessity greater than yourself or the public now discern. 

I have written Judge Loomis to bring you to the house when you 
arrive in Washington next week. I shall be happy to have your com- 


pany under my roof. Although for over a week breakfast has been my 
only meal at home, I look forward to more time early next month. Ex- 
tending to you the compliments of the season, believe me, 

Very truly yours. 
To General William Robinson. Edwin M. Stanton. 

The "written objections" referred to in the foregoing letter — 
grand and powerful "objections," in the light of subsequent events 
— are as follows : 

Memorandum for the President on the Subject of the Paper Drawn up by him 
in Reply to the Commissioners of South Carolina: 

First — The first and the concluding paragraph both seem to acknowl- 
edge the right of South Carolina to be represented near this Government 
by diplomatic officers. That implies that she is an independent nation, with 
no other relations to the Government of the Union than any other foreign 
power. If such be the fact, then she has acquired all the rights, powers, 
and responsibilities of a separate government by the mere ordinance of se- 
cession which passed her convention a few days ago. But the President 
has always, and particularly in his late message to Congress, denied the 
right of secession and asserted that no State could throw off her Federal 
obligations in that way.* Moreover, the President has very distinctly de- 
clared that even if a State should secede and go out of the Union at pleas- 
ure, whether by revolution or in the exercise of a constitutional right, he 
could not recognize her independence without being guilty of usurpation. 
I think, therefore, that every word and sentence which implies that South 
Carolina is in an attitude which enables the President to treat or nego- 
tiate with her or to receive her commissioners in the character of diplo- 
matic ministers or agents, ought to be stricken out and explicit declara- 
tions substituted which would reassert the principles of the message. It is 
surely not enough that the words of the message be transcribed if the doc- 
trine therein announced be practically abandoned by carrying on a nego- 

Second— 1 would strike out all expressions of regret that the commis- 
sioners are unwilling to proceed with the negotiations, since it is very clear 
that there can be no negotiations with them, whether they are willing or 

Third — Above all things it is objectionable to intimate a willingness to 
negotiate with the State of Carolina about the possession of a military post 
which belongs to the United States, or to propose any adjustment of the 
subject or any arrangement about it. The forts in Charleston harbor be- 
long to this Government — are its own, and cannot be given up. It is true, 
they might be surrendered to a superior force, whether that force be in 
the service of a seceding State or a foreign nation; but Fort Sumter is im- 
pregnable and cannot be taken if defended as it should be. It is a thing of 

*In his message of December 3, Buchanan said that secession was 
revolution and the right of revolution existed everywhere. 


the last importance that it should be maintained if all the power of this 
nation can do it; for the command of the harbor and the President's ability 
to execute the revenue laws may depend on it. 

Fourth— The words "coercing a State by force of arms to remain in 
the Union, a power which I do not believe the constitution has conferred 
on Congress," ought certainly not to be retained. They are too vague, and 
might have the effect (which I am sure the President does not intend) to 
mislead the commissioners concerning his sentiments. The power to de- 
fend the public property, to resist an assailing force which unlawfully at- 
tempts to drive out the troops of the United States from one of their for- 
tifications, and to use the military and naval forces for the purpose of 
aiding the proper officers of the United States in the execution of the 
laws — this, as far as it goes, is coercion, and very well may be called "co- 
ercing a State by force of arms to remain in the Union." The President 
has always asserted his right of coercion to that extent. He merely de- 
nies the right of Congress to make offensive war upon a State of the 
Union, as such might be made on a foreign Government. 

Fifth — The implied assent of the President to the accusation which the 
commissioners make of a compact with South Carolina, by which he was 
bound not to take whatever measures he saw fit for the defense of the forts, 
ought to be stricken out» and a flat denial of any such bargain, pledge, or 
agreement inserted. The paper signed by the late members of Congress 
from South Carolina does not bear any such construction, and this, as I 
understand, is the only transaction between South Carolina and him which 
bears upon the subject, either directly or indirectly. I think it deeply 
concerns the President's reputation that he should contradict this state- 
ment, since, if it be undenied, it puts him in the attitude of an executive 
officer who voluntarily disarms himself of the power to perform his du- 
ties and ties his hands so that he cannot, without breaking his oath, "pre- 
serve, protect, and defend the constitution" — "see the laws faithfully exe- 
cuted." The fact that he pledged himself in such a way cannot be true. 
The commissioners have, no doubt, been so informed, but there must be 
some mistake about it. It arose, doubtless, out of the President's anxious 
and laudable desire to avoid civil war and his often-expressed determina- 
tion not even to furnish an excuse for an outbreak at Charleston by re- 
inforcing Major Anderson unless it was absolutely necessary. 

Sixth— The remotest expression of a doubt about Major Anderson's 
perfect propriety of behavior should be carefully avoided. He is not merely 
a gallant and meritorious officer who is entitled to a fair hearing before he 
is condemned; he has saved the country, I solemnly believe, when its day 
was darkest and its perils most extreme. He has done everything that 
mortal man can do to repair the fatal error which the administration has com- 
mitted in not sending down troops enough to hold all the forts. He has kept the 
strongest one. He still commands the harbor. We may still execute the 
laws if we try. Besides, there is nothing in the orders which were sent 
to him by the War Department which is in the slightest degree contra- 
vened by his act of throwing his command into Fort Sumter. Even if 
those orders, sent without your knowledge, did forbid him to leave a place 


where his men might have perished and shelter them under a stronger po- 
sition, we ought all of us to rejoice that he broke such orders. 

Seventh — The idea that a wrong was committed against South Carolina 
by moving from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter ought to be repelled as 
firmly as may be consistent with a proper respect for the high character of 
the gentlemen who compose the South Carolina commission. It is a 
strange assumption of right on the part of that State to say that the United 
States troops must remain in the weakest position they can find in the 
harbor. It is not a menace of South Carolina or of Charleston or any 
menace at all. It is simple self-defense. If South Carolina does not at- 
tack Major Anderson, no human being will be injured; for there certainly 
will be no reason to believe that he will commence hostilities. The ap- 
parent objection to his being in Fort Sumter is that he will be less likely 
to fall an easy prey to his assailants. 

These are points on which I would advise that the paper be amended. 
I am aware that they are too radical to permit much hopes of their adop- 
tion. If they are adopted, the whole paper will need to be recast. But 
there is one thing not to be overlooked in this terrible crisis: I entreat the 
President to order the Brooklyn and the Macedonian to Charleston without 
the least delay, and in the meantime to send a trusty messenger to Major 
Anderson to let him know that his Government will not desert him. The 
reinforcement of troops from New York or Old Point Comfort should 
follow immediately. If this be done at once all may yet be, not well, but 
comparatively safe. If not, I can see nothing before us but disaster and 
ruin to the country. 

Stanton's letter to General Robinson indicates that the fore- 
going remarkable paper is entirely his own work; but Joseph Holt 
believes that two paragraphs were injected by Judge Black after 
Stanton had written to General Robinson. He says : 

After Attorney-General Stanton had complied with the President's 
request to prepare a set of legal objections to the proposed executive 
reply to the South Carolina commissioners, he read his brief to me. I 
took it in my hand and read it again, carefully. It was in five numbered 
paragraphs, while the present paper contains seven numbered para- 
graphs. I approved Mr. Stanton's brief and he left me for a consulta- 
tion with Judge Black. When we met the President, Mr. Stanton stated 
to me that Judge Black had injected some new paragraphs which he hoped 
would meet my views. I voted in favor of the policy outlined in the 
amended Memorandum which, in future history, will be a wonderful paper. 
The portions which seem to have been suggested by Judge Black include 
paragraphs two and four in the existing document. 

In this connection I ought to state that at first Mr. Stanton objected to 
any reply at all by the President to the commissioners, declaring that any 
form of executive negotiation for the purpose indicated was unlawful and 


While the Memorandum was under discussion in the cabinet, 
Buchanan was compelled to acknowledge his agreement of Decem- 
ber 9 with the South Carolina congressmen and claimed that he was 
now "affected by it pesonally." He pleaded : "You do not seem 
to appreciate that my personal honor as a gentleman is involved," — 
precisely what Commissioner Barnwell urged with so much ve- 
hemence, Stanton explained that such an agreement was impos- 
sible and no agreement because the President was "absolutely in- 
capable of making or having an understanding, in writing or oth- 
erwise, that would so tie his hands as to prevent the execution of 
the laws." Quoting what the Duke of Wellington said to George 
IV., he declared that Buchanan was "not a gentleman but President 
of the United States, solemnly sworn to execute every law made 
for the protection of its property, people, and territory." 

The conference broke up and the President proceeded with 
the draft of his reply to the commissioners, promising to make it 
accord with the Memorandum filed with him. But he broke the 
promise — censuring Major Anderson, admitting the secret bargain 
with the South Carolina congressmen, and confessing that his "first 
promptings were to order Anderson back to Moultrie." 

This communication was delivered to the commissioners with- 
out the knowledge of Stanton, Black, or Holt. The commissioners 
made a lengthy rejoinder to it and, on Friday, January 6, gave the 
entire correspondence on both sides to the public. This corre- 
spondence, together with the foregoing Memorandum — in which 
occurs the sentence, "the fatal error which the administration 


forts" — places Buchanan in a position from which no historian 
can extricate him and fixes Stanton upon a pinnacle from which 
all time cannot dethrone him. 

On October 3, 1863, Augustus Schell of New York inquired of 
Stanton in writing whether an account of the above-described cabi- 
net meetings which Thurlow Weed had given in the London Ob- 
server was correct. He replied that it was substantially true, say- 

According to my recollection * * Mr. Buchanan manifested 
a determination to order Major Anderson back, upon the ground that it 
was essential to the peace of the country, and also that the movement [of 
Anderson from Moultrie to Sumter] was a violation of some pledge or 
promise of his, which he was bound to fulfil. Thompson and Floyd both 


asserted repeatedly * * * ^]-^^^^ such a pledge had been given 
and during three days' debate I did not hear him [Buchanan] deny it. * 

* * From the first the proposition [to order Anderson back to Fort 
Moultrie] received my determined hostility and that of tw^o other members 
of the cabinet. * * * Apprehending that the proposition would 
be adopted by Mr. Buchanan, my resignation was signed and ready to be 
delivered the instant the order should be made. ***** 

* * The proposition to give up Fort Sumter was made by Floyd. Mr. 
Buchanan consulted his cabinet upon it, some of whom violently advocated 
it while others opposed it resolutely as a crime; and after several days' 
debate it was rejected. I asserted then to Mr. Buchanan, and assert now, 
that the surrender of Fort Sumter by the Government would have been, in 
my opinion, a crime equal to the crime of Arnold, and that all who par- 
ticipated in the act should have been hanged. 

Knowiiig that Other members of Buchanan's cabinet had been 
similarly besought by Mr. Schell, Stanton submitted the reply 
from which the foregoing extract is taken to Judge Holt. Holt's 
judgment was opposed to public discussion of the Buchanan ad- 
ministration by its chief participants during the progress of the war. 
Stanton adopted that view and did not send his reply, which 
was found among his papers after his death and identified by Judge 
Holt. Whether or not so intended, it is a terrible indictment of 
Buchanan, and one that never can be quashed. 


Thoroughly aroused by the thickening dangers around him, 
Stanton now sought the pressure of public opinion upon the Presi- 
dent in favor of reinforcing the Southern forts and protecting Fed- 
eral property in seceding States. He requested Henry Winter 
Davis, a representative in Congress from Baltimore, to prepare an 
address to the people to counteract the promise of Senator Iverson 
(of Georgia) that, if Maryland w^ould secede with the other slave 
States, Washington should be continued as the seat of the proposed 
new slave government, and it appeared in the Baltimore Patriot. 
He also wrote to George Harding and others in Philadelphia to 
promote a Union mass-meeting, which was held on January 5 and 
attended by seven thousand citizens who adopted resolutions "heart- 
ily approving the conduct of Major Anderson, calling on the Presi- 
dent to provide him with all the force he required for the defense of 
his position, and pledging themselves to protect the American flag 
to the last extremity." 

Stanton, who had previously supplied to him a copy of the out- 
line plans of secession,* formulated by the Southern leaders, laid 
a copy of the Philadelphia resolutions before the President, saying: 

*First — That in the event of a rupture with the United States Govern- 
ment, the authorities of South Carolina, in their sovereign capacity, imme- 
diately seize the fortifications and all defenses of the State harbors; 

Second — That all forts, arsenals, dock-yards, barracks, etc., belonging 
to the United States, situated on the Southern coast, including fortifica- 
tions from Cape Henry, in Virginia, to the southermost coast borders of 
Texas, be immediately seized by State troops, upon the first intimation of 
Government coercion upon South Carolina; 

Third — That the telegraph, railroad, and stage stations in the interior 
districts be placed under the censorship and control of duly appointed 
State agents in their several localities; 

Fourth — That intercommunication between the Southern and Northern 
ports be interdicted, so far as the introduction of articles contraband of 
war into Southern from Northern States may be concerned; 


"This is the voice of the chief men in the chief city in your 
State. It is the sentiment you will hear from everywhere in the 
North and from most of the border States." Similar meetings 
were held in other large cities of the North, New York excepted,* 
strengthening the hands of Stanton, Black, and Holt. 

A secret meeting of secession leaders in Washington, held 
simultaneously with the Philadelphia gathering, decided against 
the safety of postponing the formal act of secession beyond March 

4, and resolved that all the slave States should secede at once and 
hold a convention at Montgomery, Alabama, for the formation of 
a new government. They also resolved that the Southern sena- 
tors and representatives should remain in their seats at Washing- 
ton as long as possible to "aid in the cause of liberty" by "exposing 
and thwarting measures hostile to the secession movement." Sena- 
tors Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, John Slidell of Louisiana, and 

5. R. Mallory of Florida were chosen to carry the resolutions into 

Thousands of rooms in Washington were engaged by South- 
erners "until the fourth of March," the object being, Senator Louis 
T. Wigfall of Texas declared, "to have our friends on the ground 
in case of emergency." The "emergency" contemplated was the 
seizure of the national capital and archives previous to the inau- 
guration of Lincoln. The command of the enterprise was to be in 
the hands of Major Benjamin McCulloch of Texas, who had already 
surveyed the city of Washington and otherwise prepared not only 
for its investment, but for "subsequently repelling Northern in- 

The date fixed for the coup d'etat was Friday, February 15, 
when "the count of the electoral votes was to be interrupted and 

Fifth — The expatriation from the Southern States of all Northerners 
and others who do not recognize the right of secession, or cooperate in 
secession movements; 

Sixth — The seizure and confiscation of all goods contraband of war; 

Seventh — The confiscation of the property of non-sympathizers; 

Eighth — The defense of the State against foreign legions, come from 
what quarter they may. 

*On the same day (January 7) Mayor Fernando Wood sent to the 
council a message advocating the secession of New York City, saying she 
would have the "un'itea support of the Southern States." 


the constitutional declaration of Lincoln's election prevented." That 
Stanton was aware of the program is indicated in the following: 

Washington, January 16, 18C1. 
Dear Sir: 

Your kind letter was received this morning, and I thank you for the 
confidence and regard it expresses for myself. You are right in supposing 
it to be my determination to do everything in my power to preserve and 
maintain this Government and the constitution under which the United 
States have been so prosperous. The means you indicate, I agree with you, 
are the proper ones for this emergency; and, as far as it is possible, they 
will be exerted. 

I have an abiding faith that this Government cannot be overthrown; 
that it was ordained of God, and that the powers of hell cannot prevail 
against it. 

We may have trouble; the city of Washington may be captiind; but 
every effort will be made to prevent that catastrophe, and even if it does 
happen, the revolutionists will be as far as ever from accomplishing the 
destruction of the Government, but much nearer to their own destruction. 

So far from being indifferent to your advice, any suggestion of your 
wisdom and experience will be thankfully received. My aim is to perform 
my duty in the post to which I am called, and I shall be happy of any light 
to guide me in the true path. 

With the confidence and hope of the future, I remain, 

Yours truly, 
General William Robinson.- Edwin M. Stanton. 

His efforts to ~ rouse the North and rehabilitate the Govern- 
ment caused Henry J. Raymond to write to the New York Times: 
"Mr. Stanton is regarded as the backbone of the administration. 
He is believed to be at the bottom of the new policy of enforcing 
the laws which is driving out the secessionists." Thurlow Weed 
wrote from Washington: "While I was in the White House I 
looked over that new Attorney-General of ours. He is tremen- 
dous!" The correspondent (Horace White) of the New York 
Tribune wrote : "The marked change of policy is felt in the very 
air. It is Stanton." 

On the 8th of January, Jacob Thompson resigned as secretary 
of the interior for the reason that, after the order to reinforce 
Major Anderson had been countermanded (on December 31) by 
Buchanan and a distinct promise given that no troops should be 
sent into the South before the subject had been considered and de- 
cided in the cabinet, Secretary of War Holt had ordered two hun- 


dred and fifty troops in the Star of the West to reinforce Anderson, 
which was in violation of that agreement. The steamer sailed from 
New York on January 5, reached Charleston harbor on the 9th early 
in the morning, and was fired upon by order of Governor Pickens, 
who had been apprised of her coming and was prepared for the at- 
tack. She was forced to put out to sea and return to Fortress Mon- 

This brings up an illustration of Stanton's foresight. On the 
3d of January he said to Holt : "That man from Mississippi 
[Thompson] is betraying us." Thompson had a large personal 
influence over the President and was remaining in the cabinet 
for the purpose of securing valuable information for his Southern 
friends. On resigning and returning to Mississippi, he made an ad- 
dress to his people in which he confirmed Stanton's opinion of him. 
"As I was writing my resignation," he said, "I sent a despatch to 
Judge Longstreet that the Star of the West was coming with rein- 
forcements. The [South Carolina] troops were thus put on their 
guard and when the Star of the West arrived she received a warm 
welcome from booming cannon, and soon beat a retreat. I was re- 
joiced that the vessel was not sunk, but still more rejoiced that 
the concealed trick conceived by General Scott and adopted by Sec- 
retary Holt, but countermanded by the President when too late, proved 
a failure." 

While several of the Southern States that had seceded were 
organizing and drilling militia and occupying Federal property, se- 
cession postmasters continued to make requisitions for supplies 
and postage stamps. Before honoring these requisitions the Post- 
master-General asked Stanton to define the ofBcial status of post- 
masters in seceding States. He advised that the requisitions be 
honored, "if such postmasters would agree to obey existing postal 
laws and hold themselves responsible to the Government" as be- 
fore, and the advice was followed.* 

On January 24 the United States steamer Brooklyn sailed for 
Pensacola from Fortress Monroe with a company of artillery to re- 
inforce Fort Pickens. On February 6 the steamer reached its desti- 
nation only to meet a document from Secretaries Holt and Toucey 
countermanding the original orders and instructing Captain Israel 

*The postal service was continued in the seceded States until June, 1861, 
the insurgents using it freely for the destruction of the Government which 
was maintaining it. 


Vogdes not to land his troops or arms unless the fort should be at- 
tacked, or preparations made for an attack. This sudden change of 
base was due to the influence over Buchanan of Messrs. Mason, 
Slidell, and Hunter, together with that of Senator Mallory, who 
promised that Pickens should not be attacked if the President would 
agree not to reinforce it, and he agreed. 

As such a bargain was as advantageous, almost, as an actual 
surrender of the fort to the secessionists, Stanton "earnestly op- 
posed it." He urged that the South was "merely seeking time for 
more perfect war preparations ; that if Pickens were not reinforced 
at once it could not be reinforced after hostilities had begun and 
that the result would be the loss of the fort." His argument was 
without effect, Buchanan ordering Secretaries Holt and Toucey, in 
writing, to send the instructions mentioned. 

On the 23d of January Ex-President John Tyler arrived in 
Washington as commissioner from Virginia, bearing the compro- 
mise resolutions of his State to the President. Buchanan received 
him with condescension and promised to make the matter the 
subject of a special message to Congress. Mr. Tyler asked the privi- 
lege of "seeing and discussing the message before its transmission 
to Congress," and his request was granted ! 

Stanton was dissatisfied with that portion of it which declared 
that Congress alone possessed the power and authority to act in 
the present emergency, calling it an "abdication," Mr. Tyler, who 
saw the message before it was seen by Stanton or any loyal cabinet 
officer, also combated the idea that "suddenly the President had 
become no president — nothing but a figure-head." He said : "My 
message is to you. You are commander-in-chief of the army and 
navy in peace as well as in war." Mr. Tyler, however, did not suc- 
ceed in securing a modification of the "abdication" ; but subse- 
quently Stanton did, the President contenting himself with saying 
that he had no power to tie the hands of Congress, although at 
the same time he asked that body to "abstain from any and all acts 
calculated to produce a collision of arms," himself having previously 
tied his own hands by the agreement of December 9 with the South 
Carolina congressmen and the subsequent bargain with Senator 
Mallory relative to Fort Pickens. 

In that message he said that it was his "duty at all times to de- 
fend and protect the public property within the seceding States, so 


far as this may be practicable." To the last sentence Stanton, Holt, 
Dix,* and Black firmly objected. Stanton stated that the enforce- 
ment of laws and the defense of public property were "not matters 
of caprice or of political practicability, but of sworn, mandatory 
duty." Black was positive in the same direction, and the President 
drew his pencil through the sentence. When, however, on the 
28th, the message, accompanied by the Virginia resolutions, was 
read in Congress, the objectionable words had been restored! 

In moving that these documents be printed. Senator Mason 
of Virginia said, that any attempt on the part of the Government 
to collect the revenue in the South would be "an act of war," while 
with the next breath he declared that the "seizure by the seceding 
States of the arsenals and forts in the Gulf States was not war but 
merely an act of necessary prudence." At the same time Senator 
Iverson of Georgia gave notice that his State had abandoned the 
Union and warned the Senate and the administration that unless the 
independence of the seceding States was acknowledged at once 
"they would keep all the property in their hands and never pay one 
dollar of the common public debt." He also declared that "the first 
Federal gun," no matter for what purpose, "would cancel every 
public and private debt. We do not care in what form you move 
against us, no matter whether it be the collection of revenue or any 
other, we shall treat it as an act of war." Iverson's State was al- 
ready out of the Union, yet he was participating in the Govern- 
ment from which he had withdrawn and against which he himself 
and his State were in rebellion! 

On the same day Jacob Thompson and Senator Jefferson Davis 
guaranteed twenty-four thousand dollars for the purchase of arms. 
The record was now too strong for Stanton. He demanded that 
the senators and representatives from the States which had re- 
pudiated and withdrawn from the Union be arrested and imprisoned. 
However, the Federal machinery, the Federal courts, and the 
Federal capital were so thoroughly permeated with secession senti- 
ments, that effective steps to carry out his ideas could not be taken. 

On the 8th day of February the secession convention at Mont- 
gomery adopted a constitution ; on the 9th elected and swore in Jef- 

*Thurlow Weed says the appointment of John A. Dix, as secretary 
of the treasury to succeed P. E. Thomas, "was brought about by Edwin M. 
Stanton, who, alarmed at the state of things in the cabinet, was anxious 
to bring a loyal Democrat from the North into the Treasury Department." 


ferson Davis to be "president," and Alexander H. Stephens to be 
"vice-president" of the "Confederate States of America," and fixed 
the 18th as the day for their inauguration. 

Stanton received a program of the proposed installation cere- 
monies from his friend Judge Archibald Roane of Alabama. Read- 
ing it in cabinet consultation, he exclaimed : "Such a proceeding 
cannot be permitted to take place within the confines of this nation. 
It is not a mock affair, but an earnest and desperate effort to break 
up this Union. It is just as much our duty to save the country from 
destruction by slave-holding John Brow^ns as by abolition John 

Buchanan replied : "It is nov^ too late ; we are helpless," to 
which Stanton retorted : 

It is never too late to save the country. We are not helpless. If we 
supinely permit some upstart to be elected and inaugurated as presi- 
dent at Montgomery, we shall have to permit the same performance here 
in Washington, if undertaken. If we permit the secessionists to seize 
the Federal property and archives in South Carolina and Alabama, shall 
we not be obliged to permit them to seize and use the Federal buildings 
and records here in Washington? Would you, Mr. President, abdicate 
if Davis should come, which he may do, and demand possession of the 
White House? Shall we offer no resistance if the secessionists come here 
and attempt to seize the public records? If we do not resist them there, 
we cannot resist them here. If you would not abdicate in Washington, 
you cannot abdicate in Charleston or Montgomery. Mr. President, there 
m.ust be no so-called inauguration of another president while you occupy 
that high office, never, never! 

Buchanan was unmoved and those who had concocted a plot 
to prevent the electoral count on February 15 and the inauguration 
of President Lincoln on March 4, were allowed to inaugurate their 
own so-called president on February 18 without even a protest from 
the Government. Not only so, but immediately after the Confed- 
erate inauguration, Buchanan, circumventing the Union members 
of his cabinet, sent a communication by R. M. T. Hunter advising 
Jefferson Davis to despatch commissioners to Washington and he 
"would be happy to receive them" and transmit their wishes to 
Congress ! Davis testifies that he acted on that advice and sent a 
commissioner (M. J. Crawford) who, however, was unable to reach 
Washington until "too late to accomplish anything." 

More than once Stanton informed the President that active 
proceedings against the Government certainly must be stopped. 
The reply was that the army and navy were in such a crippled con- 


dition that nothing could be done. In answer he urged the Presi- 
dent to ask Congress to strengthen the army and make it adequate 
to threatened emergencies, but without results. He thereupon 
went in person to his cousin, Benjamin Stanton (of Ohio), chair- 
man of the House Committee on Military Affairs, and begged him 
to forthwith report a bill for an immediate increase in the number 
and equipment of the military forces. His cousin complied, but the 
Democrats largely opposed the measure, saying that if there were 
any real necessity for increasing the military strength of the country 
the President himself would urge Congress to do it! 

And thus was chaos added to chaos, weakness to weakness, and 
the pathway to civil strife made broader and shorter. 

On the 5th of March Stanton became a private citizen. His po- 
sition had been one of extreme difficulty. Before he came into the 
cabinet secession moved forward with glee. To its leaders suc- 
cess appeared inevitable.* The President was in their confidence 
and indirectly contributing to their labors. William M. Boyce of 
Garfield, Virginia, one of the South Carolina congressmen, who, 
on December 9, 1860, made the written bargain with Buchanan 
at the end of several preliminary interviews, says : "Both the con- 
duct and bearing of the President were and had been such as to 
make us feel sure of his sympathy and cooperation." The adminis- 
tration organ, the Washington Constitution, lauded secession inces- 
santly from the moment Lincoln's election became known ; called 
upon the South to "awaken and redress her wrongs," and demanded 
that Lincoln resign, receiving the while the support of Buchanan, 
who diverted to its disloyal columns the entire stream of Govern- 
ment advertising! 

Thus, there was every reason for the secessionists, having sub- 
stantial aid from Buchanan and the North, to anticipate victory, 
and if Stanton had not entered the cabinet and clung to it and 

*Says General M. C. Meigs: "In January, 1861, when Mr. and Mrs. Jef- 
ferson Davis left Washington for the South, they rode together to give 
notice that they wished to retain their pew in Epiphany Episcopal 
Church. As they turned to go Mrs. Davis said with a confident smile: 'You 
keep the cushion, too, for we shall need it soon — when we come back.' Mr. 
Davis added: 'Yes, keep the cushion for us till we return.' And so they left 
us fully expecting to be back here within a brief period at the head of a 
nation which, in the meantime, they had broken in twain and reunited on a 
new basis." 


fought in it to the end in spite of indignities, disagreements, false 
hopes, false words, betrayals, and broken promises, the Federal 
capital and its archives and the machinery of the Government 
would have fallen into their hands as planned ; and Jefferson Davis 
instead of Abraham Lincoln would have been inaugurated in Wash- 
ington and perhaps, as was hoped, without bloodshed ! 


As he returned to Wheatland (near Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 
after the inauguration of Lincoln, Buchanan requested Stanton to 
supply a record of the course of public events by means of a sys- 
tematic correspondence. The letters written in response to this 
request were sent generally by mail, but sometimes confided to per- 
sonal messengers. As, in July, August, and September, 1861, many 
letters failed to reach their destination, the correspondence for that 
reason was discontinued altogether. 

These entirely private communications,* composed in the ut- 
most freedom and confidence, have been savagely criticized because 
of the severity with which they describe the initial operations of the 
Lincoln administration, but the absolute truth of their essential 
statements cannot be denied. 

The. first letter mentions that Stanton was requested by W. H. 
Seward, secretary of state in Lincoln's cabinet, to draft a nomina- 
tion of John J. Crittenden, a Democratic senator from Kentucky, to 
be a justice of the United States Supreme Court, with which request 
he says he complied. Lincoln desired to reward Crittenden for 
his "compromise" resolution, which proposed the absurd plan of 
prohibiting slavery forever north and granting it forever south of 
36°, 30', and binding Congress forever from interfering with this 
hybrid arrangement ; but there was such an outcry of opposition 
to the nomination that Stanton's draft was never sent to the Senate. 

In the same letter he discussed General Scott's "Comments" 
on the evacuation of Fort Moultrie, saying, among other things: 

The third point relates to what General Scott calls an informal truce 
entered into by you [Buchanan] with certain persons from the seceding 
States under which the reinforcement of Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens 
was suspended. My recollection of that transaction is that General Scott 

♦Published nearly in full in George Ticknor Curtis's Life of Buchanan. 


and Mr. Holt concurred with you in that arrangement which, when proposed 
in cabinet, was opposed by Judge Black and myself. 

He also makes a further disclosure concerning the matter : 

In his conversation with me Mr. Seward mentioned that Mr. Lincoln 
and his cabinet, when this subject came up, would desire me to be present 
and also Mr. Holt. I told him that if all of the late cabinet were re- 
quested to be present I would have no objection; but I did not think it 
proper unless all were present. He said that of course the invitation 
would be extended to all. As I never heard anything more on the subject, 
I suppose they have found it necessary to consult only Mr. Holt, who con- 
tinues acting as secretary of war. 

In his letter of March 14, he predicted that if the Lincoln ad- 
ministration should continue four years, changes would be made 
in the Supreme Court which would "affect its constitutional doc- 
trines." In December following, Senator J. P. Hale presented a 
resolution in Congress ordering an inquiry into "the expediency of 
abolishing the present Supreme Court" and "creating a new one" 
to take its place. The effort failed, but its inception proves that 
Stanton was taking a remarkably accurate measure of the influences 
which were to shape future events. 

His letter of April 11 contains the following: 

There is great "soldiering" in town the last two days. The yard in 
front of the War Office is crowded with District militia who are being 
mustered into service. The feeling of loyalty to the Government has greatly 
diminished in this city. Many persons who would have supported the Gov- 
ernment under your administration refuse to be enrolled. Many who 
were enrolled have withdrawn, and refuse to take the oath. 

The administration has not acquired the respect and confidence of 
the people here. Not one of the cabinet or principal officers has taken a 
house or brought his family here. Seward rented a home "while he should 
continue in the cabinet," but has not opened it, nor has his family come. 
They all act as though they meant to be ready to "cut and run" at a min- 
ute's notice. Their tenure is like that of a Bedouin on the sands of the 
desert. This is sensibly felt and talked about by the people in the city, 
and they feel no confidence in an administration that betrays so much in- 
security. And besides, a strong feeling of distrust in the candor and 
sincerity of Lincoln personally and of his cabinet has sprung up. If they 
had been merely silent and secret there might have been no grounds of com- 
plaint. But assurances are said to have been given and declarations made 
in conflict with the facts now transpiring in respect to the South, so that no 
one speaks of Lincoln or any member of his cabinet with respect and re- 


The facts about Sumter it is impossible to ascertain, for the reasons 
that have been mentioned, for no one knows what to believe. The near- 
est conjecture I can form is this: 

First — That the Baltic has been sent with provisions for Sumter; 

Second—That the Powhattan has been sent with forces to land and attack 
the battery; 

Third — That a secret expedition, independent of General Scott, has 
been sent, under charge of [Captain G. V.] Fox to make an effort to land in 
the night at Sumter. 

The refusal of Governor Pickens to admit Captain Talbot to Sumter 
may prevent concert of action with Major Anderson, and I think the whole 
will prove a failure. There is no excitement here. People are anxious, but 
the sensational telegrams sent from here are without foundation. It is 
true, however, that Ben McCulloch* has been here on a scouting expe- 
dition, and he carefully examined all the barracks and military posts in the 
city, and said he expected to be in possession of the city before long. He 
stayed all night at Dr. Gwin's. This has a business aspect. It is believed 
that a secession ordinance will be passed in the Virginia convention to-day. 

The Dr. Gwin above referred to is W. M. Gwin, a man of re- 
markable energy and ability, whose term as United States senator 
from California had just expired. 

In his letter of May 16, Stanton mentions that Franklin Square, 
on which his house fronted, had been filled with soldiers and hos- 
pitals and he had therefore moved his family — Mrs. Stanton being 
in delicate health and afifected by the uproar — to a rented house 
on H Street. 

His letter of May 19, in full, is as follows : 

You will see in the New York papers Judge Campbell's reportf of the 
negotiations between himself and Mr. Seward, to which I referred in my 
letter of last week. They had been related to me by the Judge about the 
time they closed. 

*McCulloch was selected to lead the raid planned for the capture of 
Washington and its archives on February 15, previous to the "constitutional 
declaration" of Lincoln's election, which, on exposure, was abandoned. On 
February 16, in collusion with its commander, General D. E. Twiggs, he 
seized the United States fort at San Antonio, Texas, with all its arms and 

tjustice J. A. Campbell, of the Supreme Court, who conducted the nego- 
tiations between the Lincoln administration and the Confederate commis- 
sioners, and transmitted to the latter the Washington pledges of non-inter- 
vention which were not kept, made a formal report to Jefferson Davis in 
order to clear himself from the imputation of having been a party to "dip- 
lomatic chicanery." — See Confederate records. 


Mr. Seward's silence will not relieve him from the imputation of de- 
ceit and double-dealing in the minds of many, though I do not believe it 
can justly be imputed to him. I have no doubt he believed Sumter would 
be evacuated, as he stated it would be; but the war party overruled him 
with Lincoln, and he was forced to give up, but he could not give up his 
office. That is a sacrifice no Republican will be apt to make. But this 
correspondence shows that Mr. Frederick W. Seward was not in the line 
of truth when he said that "negotiations ceased on the fourth of March." 

The New York Evening Post is very severe on Judge Campbell, and 
very unjustly so, for the Judge has been as anxiously and patriotically 
earnest to preserve the Government as any man in the United States, and 
he has sacrificed more than any other Southern man rather than yield to the 
secessionists. I regret the treatment he has received from Mr. Seward and 
the Post, 

Nothing new has transpired here since my last letter. I am convinced 
that an attack will be made and a battle fought for this city before long. 

In his letter of July 16 Stanton urged Buchanan not to publish 
at that heated period the volume (popularly known as "Buchan- 
an's Defense") prepared by himself in defense of his administra- 
tion, as, if it should have any effect, it would be that of inciting still 
further attack, and declared : 

So far, however, as your administration is concerned, its policy in 
reference to both Sumter and Pickens [which Stanton strenuously opposed] 
is fully vindicated by the course of the present administration. 

For forty days after the inauguration of Lincoln no use was made of 
the means that had been prepared for reinforcing Sumter.* 

A Republican senator informed me a short time ago that General Scott 
personally urged him to consent to the evacuation of both Sumter and 
Pickens; and it is a fact of general notoriety, published in all the papers 
at the time and never contradicted, that not only the General, but other 
military men who were consulted, were in favor of that measure. Whatever 
may be said of Bennett's malignity now, I think that the public will be dis- 
posed to do full justice to your efforts to avert the calamity of civil war; 
and every month for a long time to come will, I am afraid, furnish fresh 
evidence of the magnitude of that calamity. 

*Says General John E. Wool: "When Mr. Stanton left the Buchanan 
cabinet, such ships as we possessed had been brought to our shores and 
were ready for orders and the arms and munitions of war in every ar- 
senal in the North had been inspected and were at the doors ready for 
instant shipment. It was supposed that the new administration would want 
to have in a condition of immediate availability all our machinery for 
national defense and would at once put it to use. When Mr. Stanton found 
that in this he had been mistaken, he was more angry with Lincoln than he 
ever had been with Buchanan or Buchanan's secession advisers, because he 
supposed that Lincoln was embarrassed by no secession entanglements 
and would act decisively to save the Union," 


The last of the letters that reached Buchanan is dated July 26. 
Since it is the one which has been most severely criticized, it is 
given (the formal opening and closing paragraphs omitted) in full : 

The dreadful disaster of Sunday [Battle of Bull Run] can scarcely be 
mentioned. The imbecility of this administration has culminated in that 
catastrophe, and irretrievable misfortune and national disgrace are to be 
added to the ruin of all peaceful pursuits and national bankruptcy as the 
result of Lincoln's "running the machine" for five months. 

You perceive that Bennett is for a change in the cabinet, and proposes 
for one of the new cabinet Mr. Holt, whose opposition to Bennett's ap- 
pointment* was so bitter and intensely hostile. It is not unlikely that 
some changes in the War and Navy Departments may take place, but none 
beyond these two Departments until Jefferson Davis turns out the whole 
concern.! The capture of Washington seems to be inevitable. During 
the whole of Monday and Tuesday it might have been taken without re- 
sistance. The rout, overthrow, and utter demoralization of the whole army 
is complete. Even now I doubt whether any serious opposition to the en- 
trance of the Confederate forces would be offered. While Lincoln, Scott, 
and the cabinet are disputing as to who is to blame, the city is unguarded 
and the enemy at hand. 

General McClellan reached here last evening. But, if he had the ability 
of Caesar, Alexander, or Napoleon, what can he accomplish? Will not 
Scott's jealousy, cabinet intrigues, and Republican interference thwart 
him at every step? While hoping for the best, I cannot shut my eyes 
against the dangers that beset the Government, and especially this city. 

Chaos, secret negotiations, and indecision prevailed at Wash- 
ington ; and feebleness and longing for justification at Wheatland. 
Stanton gathered the crop as it grew and served it to suit the 
palate and condition of his distinguished correspondent. The new 
administration was drifting, dodging, and negotiating precisely as 
Buchanan had done, which meant dissolution of the Union without 
resistance ; and, although he detested such a course, and studiously 
refrained from expressing in his letters a direct opinion about it, 

*James Gordon Bennett, of the New York Herald, desired the appoint- 
ment of Minister to France. 

fGeneral L. T. Wigfall wrote to a friend in Washington, who dis- 
closed the communication to Stanton, that the Confederate plan was to mass 
100,000 men on the Potomac and, when perfectly prepared, to capture 
the Federal capital. President Lincoln and all, by a sudden descent 
and then, if necessary, march on to Philadelphia. The indications at that 
moment were that the plan could be successfully executed. A steamer was 
tied at the wharf ready to flee with Lincoln if Lee should enter the city as 


Stanton was bound to exploit the fact as a "Republican vindication" 
of the wretched policy of his former chief. 

To others he wrote the real feelings of his heart, as is amply 
shown by the following: 

Washington, June 11, 1861. 
My dear Sir: 

It gives me great pleasure to know that in the midst of arduous duties 
you still bear me in kind remembrance. The meeting of the 24th of April 
in New York has become a national epoch; for it was a manifestation of 
patriotic feeling beyond any example in history. To that meeting,* the 
courage it inspired, and the organized action it produced, this Government 
will owe its salvation, if it can be saved. To the general gratification at 
your position as chairman of the Union Committee, there has been added 
in my breast a feeling of security and succor that until that time was un- 

No one can imagine the deplorable condition of this city and the 
hazard of the Government who did not witness the weakness and panic of 
the administration, and the painful imbecility of Lincoln. We looked to 
New York in that dark hour as our only deliverance under Providence, 
and, thank God, it came. 

The uprising of the people of the United States to maintain their Gov- 
ernment and crush the Rebellion has been so grand, so mighty in every ele- 
ment, that I feel it a blessing to be alive and witness it! 

The action of your city especially filled me with admiration, and proves 
the right of New York to be called the Empire City. But the picture 
has a dark side — dark and terrible — from the corruption that surrounds the 
War Department, and seems to poison with venomous breath the very at- 

Millions of New York capital, the time, strength, and perhaps lives of 
thousands of patriotic citizens will be wasted to gorge a ravenous crew. 

On every side the Government and the soldiers are pillaged. Arms, 
clothing, transportation, provisions, are each and all subjects of specula- 
tionf and spoil. On one side the waves of treason and rebellion are dash- 
ing; on the other is the yawning gulf of national bankruptcy. 

*A great non-partisan gathering at which large sums of money and 
all other forms of aid were pledged to the Government. 

fA few days previously a descent was made on tTie records in all tele- 
graph offices, by which a great network of treasonable and corrupt prac- 
tises was disclosed. It involved thousands of persons in high public and 
private stations theretofore supposed to be loyal, and was calculated to 
sicken and discourage the strongest patriots. L. T. Wigfall of Texas left 
the United States Senate, opened recruiting offices in Baltimore and Wash- 
ington, under Confederate commissions, and by March 16 was telegraphing 
to General Beauregard with unmolested freedom, from Washington, con- 
cerning his recruits and the means of transporting them to the South — an 
astonishing historical fact! 


Our cause is the greatest that any generation of men was ever called 
upon to uphold. It would seem to be God's cause, and must triumph. But 
when we witness the venality and corruption growing in power every day 
and controlling the millions of money that should be a patriotic sacrifice 
for national deliverance, and threatening the treasure of the nation as a 
booty to be divided among thieves, hope dies away. 

Deliverance from this danger also must come from New York. Those 
who are unwilling to see blood shed, lives lost, treasure wasted in vain, 
must take speedy measures to reform the evil before it is too late. 

Of military affairs, I can form no judgment. Every day affords fresh 
proof of the design to give the war a party direction. The army appoint- 
ments appear (with two or three exceptions only) to be bestowed on per- 
sons whose only claim is their Republicanism — broken-down politicians 
without experience, ability, or any other merit. Democrats are rudely 
repulsed and scowled upon with jealous and ill-concealed aversion. The 
Western Democracy are already becoming disgusted, and between the 
corruption of some of the Republican leaders and the self-seeking am- 
bition of others, some great disaster may soon befall the nation. How long 
will the Democracy of New York tolerate these things? 

The navy is in a state of hopeless imbecility, and it is believed to be 
far from being purged of the treachery that has already occasioned so 
much shame and dishonor. 

In respect to domestic affairs, Mrs. Stanton and I hoped to visit New 
York last month, but the critical state of affairs made it hazardous to leave 
our children, and we cannot take them with us. With the enemy still at our 
gates we cannot venture to leave home. We hoped to see you here, es- 
pecially after you had received the appointment of major-general. But 
now that the administration has got over its panic, you are not the kind 
of a man that would be welcome. 

There are many details that I could give you in regard to proceedings 
here, but it is painful to think of them and to write them down would be 
a tedious and disgusting task. I hope our cause may triumph despite the 
low passions and mean intellects that now weigh it down. But whatever 
may be our fate, I shall always be happy to be your esteemed friend. Mrs. 
Stanton and our pet are well, and join in expressions of regard. 

Yours truly, 
The Honorable John A. Dix. E. M. Stanton. 

The foregoing is a Stanton letter, not a Buchanan letter. It 
is not guarded and halting, speaking gingerly of "policy," "vindi- 
cation," and "defense," but heroic, virile, and patriotic, disclosing 
the real Stanton, the Hercules w^ho had turned the ship about in 
the midst of the storm and rescued it at the brink of disunion. It 
is the Stanton, who, having advised Seward on March 5, the day 
following the inauguration, that "everything the Government pos- 
sesses for the defense has been put in shape for instant use," 
was disgusted and angry because Lincoln made no attempt "for 


forty days," as he says in one of the foregoing letters, to take ad- 
vantage of that preparation, during every moment of which delay 
secession was gaining in strength and the Confederacy increasing 
its store of war munitions and its enlistment of soldiers. It is the 
Stanton who, having pointed out to Seward that while Buchanan 
had been without popular backing (the Democratic party in the 
North divided, the Republican party solidly hostile, and the South 
withdrawn into secession) Lincoln had firm ground on which to 
stand and ought to take decisive steps to preserve national integrity, 
yet saw with alarm and indignation no steps taken, no affirmative 
effort put forth to rescue the Union, It is the Stanton who had 
protested aggressively against Buchanan's secret negotiations with 
secession agents and put a stop to them. It is the Stanton who had 
heard the Republican party unanimously denouncing the negotia- 
tions with secession commissioners as one "tainting the outgoing 
administration with treason" and then beheld Lincoln, while do- 
ing nothing to reinforce the Southern forts, taking up anew, through 
his own law partner (Ward H. Lamon) and a justice of the United 
States Supreme Court (John A. Campbell) the tainting threads of 
a more offensive, humiliating, and formal negotiation with the 
Confederacy than any he had forced Buchanan to drop. 

But why amplify? The essential averments of these letters to 
Buchanan and Dix are amply sustained by public records and fully 
establish: (1) That an "arrangement" was "negotiated" between 
Buchanan and "certain persons from seceding States under which 
the reinforcement of Sumter and Pickens was suspended" ; (2) That 
this arrangement was denounced and "vehemently opposed" by 
Stanton as attorney-general ; (3) That Lincoln resumed and broad- 
ened the "negotiations" with the secessionists which his party had 
characterized as treason on the part of Buchanan; (4) That the 
Lincoln administration repeatedly and in writing pledged the Con- 
federates that Sumter would not be reinforced but should be evacu- 
ated, and broke the pledge ; (5) That Stanton's characterizations 
of these acts and of the administration (not excluding the one alleg- 
ing the "painful imbecility of Lincoln") were at that moment war- 
ranted ; and finally, (6) That when he denounced the opening oper- 
ations of the Lincoln administration at the same time that he de- 
scribed them as a "continuation" of Buchanan's idea, he condemned 
Buchanan in the most diplomatic and unanswerable way known to 


These letters are, in short, ample evidence from within that in 
the times of Buchanan and Lincoln, when others were doubting, 
drifting, negotiating, and prevaricating, he entertained clear and 
solid notions of the sufficient powers of the Government to meet the 
perilous crisis into which it was being rushed and to defend its life, 
and was full of wrath against those who, sworn to administer its 
afifairs and preserve its integrity, were too weak, or too much 
tainted, or too cowardly to perform the great tasks which con- 
fronted them. 


While the preceding correspondence was passing, Stanton re- 
sumed the practise of his profession, his first cases of importance 
coming from C. H. McCormick, against whom, for years hitherto, 
he had been successfully contending. The reaper business had 
grown to enormous proportions in America and Europe, and Mc- 
Cormick wanted his patents of 1845 and 1847 extended to pro- 
tect it. 

During the argument on these extension cases, which is still 
remembered in Washington, Stanton formulated his famous tribute 
to McCormick, whose "services to mankind and civilization," he 
said, were "vastly beyond those of aggrandizers and conquerors. 
His were the beneficent and everlasting victories of peace, and the 
world owed to their author an adequate reward." For illustration he 
showed upon the map how "McCormick's invention in Virginia, 
thirty years before, had carried permanent civilization westward 
more than fifty miles a year." For further illustration he referred 
to the Rebellion then sweeping over the country and filling the air 
with shout and shock and the alternating reports of victory and 
defeat and declared : 

The reaper is as important to the North as slavery to the South. It 
takes the place of the regiments of young men who have left the harvest 
fields to do battle for the Union, and thus enables the farmers to keep 
up the supply of bread for the nation and its armies. McCormick's inven- 
tion will aid materially to prevent the Union from dismemberment, and 
to grant his prayer herein is the smallest compensation the Government 
can make. 

But it was too late. His own previous eflforts against McCor- 
mick had charged public sentiment with great hostility, and the 
desired extension was not granted. 

In the meantime, while acting as attorney for General Scott 
and Secretary Cameron, he was also confidential counsel for Gen- 


eral John A. Dix. Almost immediately after Dix (who had been 
secretary of the treasury in Buchanan's cabinet) was appointed 
major-general and stationed at Baltimore, his forces were detached 
and he was left with practically no command beyond his stafif. The 
newspapers commented with severity on this treatment of a distin- 
guished patriot, and finally Dix himself asked Stanton to learn 
from the Secretary of War "why he had been side-tracked in such 
a humiliating manner." Stanton, in his reply, dated September 9, 
1861, stated : 

After a week of unsuccessful effort, I obtained last evening an inter- 
view with the Secretary of War, and exhibited to him your letter with Ad- 
jutant-General Thomas's endorsement thereon, and made the inquiry you de- 
sired. He answered that he could not certainly tell whether he had ever seen 
the paper before, but rather thought not; that he had not made any order 
on the subject (though it is probable he may have done so and forgotten it) 
and that if he did make the order it was from information by the Adjutant- 

He further said that if you desired he would submit the question to 
General Scott and act according to his opinion; and he desired me to as- 
sure you of his sincere regard, and that he would under no circumstances 
do anything intentionally to your prejudice. I have retained your letter 
in order to have it referred to General Scott, if you desire the matter to 
take that course. Please instruct me on the subject. 

The late attacks on the cabinet, and especially on the War Office do 
not appear to have produced much effect. There is no sign of any change. 

Neither the ofifensive order depriving Dix of his soldiers nor 
his protest against it, is on file in the War Department; but it is 
known that Stanton's effort to secure a modification of the order 
was successful. 

A few weeks later a simple incident developed unexpected and 
momentous results. On the 13th of November, 1861, Colonel John 
Cochrane of New York delivered a speech to his regiment, then 
quartered within a mile of Washington, in which he advocated that 
■"we should take the slave by the hand, placing a musket in it, and 
bid him in God's name strike for the liberty of the human race." 
Secretary Cameron was present and approved the sentiment, which 
provoked much denunciatory comment and was extremely distaste- 
ful to Lincoln. 

Secretary Caleb B. Smith* undertook the task of chastising 
the Secretary of War, who not only did not recede but inserted in 

*0f the Department of the Interior. 


his annual report, which he was at that moment preparing, an ex- 
plicit recommendation in favor of arming Africans. Before trans- 
mitting it to the President, however, he submitted the document to 
Stanton and asked for counsel particularly upon the clause recom- 
mending "arming slaves of rebels." Stanton approved the recom- 
mendation but suggested and wrote this additional paragraph which 
Cameron adopted and inserted : 

Those who make war against the Government justly forfeit all rights 
of property, privilege, and security derived from the constitution and the 
laws against which they are in armed rebellion; and, as the labor and ser- 
vice of their slaves constitute the chief property of the rebels, such prop- 
erty should share the common fate of war to which they have devoted the 
property of loyal citizens. * * * It is as clearly the right of 
this Government to arm slaves when it may become necessary as it is to 
use gunpowder or guns taken from the enemy. 

On Saturday, November 30, Cameron presented his report to 
Lincoln and sent advance copies of it to the leading newspapers. 
On Monday, Lincoln discovered the recommendation to arm slaves 
of rebels and suggested its excision. The Secretary did not yield 
and another conference followed with the same result, except that 
Lincoln announced that he should not send the report to Congress 
until he himself had stricken out the clause favoring the arming of 
slaves, unless it should otherwise be expunged. 

"Very well," said Cameron, "but the copies I have sent out 
will stand." They did, indeed, stand, and were published by the 
newspapers as they stood ; but Lincoln, sustained by the remaining 
members of the cabinet (except Chase), expunged the slave-arming 
clause before transmitting the report to Congress ; so that the pub- 
lic received one recommendation and Congress another. 

Cameron then understood that he could not remain much longer 
in the cabinet; but, as he refused to resign "without knowing who 
his successor would be," and as his expurgated recommendation 
was sustained by the great active war party of the North, Lincoln 
hesitated to remove him. Finally the plan of sending him as min- 
ister to Russia was conceived, but to find a suitable successor was 
perplexing. Lincoln wanted Joseph Holt while Secretary Seward 
(at the suggestion of Peter H. Watson) urged the appointment of 
Stanton who, unaware of the proposed change, was at that mo- 
ment preparing to establish himself in New York as the law part- 
ner of S. L. M. Barlow. The matter was under discussion but a 


few hours. As the ruHng influences quickly concentrated in favor 
of Stanton, Lincoln submerged his personal preference and agreed 
that Stanton should be the man chosen.* 

"I remember very well when the President was hesitating be- 
tween Judge Holt and Mr. Stanton," says General E. D. Townsend. 
'"I think it was the Saturday (January 11) before the latter's selec- 
tion was made that Mr. Stanton visited General Scott in his office 
opposite the War Department. The General had drawn up his will, 
which was complicated by the fact that part of his property was in 
the seceded State of Virginia, and he wanted to consult Mr. Stanton 
about it. General Scott thought highly of him, and threw his in- 
fluence in the direction of the final decision." 

"Tell the President I will accept," said Stanton when consulted, 
"if no other pledge than to throttle treason shall be exacted." 

Thus Stanton's call to the War Office was as sudden and un- 
expected as the summons to become attorney-general in Buchan- 
an's cabinet. The question arose on the 11th of January, and on 
Monday, the 13th, his nomination was sent to the Senate. Senator 
Sumner, at the executive session later in the day, moved immediate 
confirmation "because," he said, "Mr. Stanton does not agree with 
those who want the war so managed as to save slavery no matter 
what else may result, but believes that the war should be prosecuted 
to save the Union and that everything necessary should be made 
to contribute to its success." As there was objection, the motion 
was withdrawn and a committee of Republicans was raised to "in- 
vestigate Stanton's loyalty." The report came forthwith that he 
was "all right," and his confirmation and a commission from the 
President followed on the 15th. 

Interesting, indeed, is the fact that Lincoln was unaware that 
the iron-willed giant he was putting in was more stubbornly in 
favor of enlisting and arming the slaves of rebellious masters than 
the man he was putting out. Lincoln was also unaware that the 
recommendation which, with his own hand, he had expunged from 
Cameron's report and which was the means of forcing its supposed 
author out, was conceived and written by the very man now going 
in — but so it was ; and so it may be said that Stanton wrote his 
own appointment ! 

♦Montgomery Blair, postmaster-general, was the only member of Lin- 
coln's cabinet who opposed the appointment of Stanton. 


The situation of the nation at the time Stanton became sec- 
retary of war was critical. Eleven old and wealthy States in active 
and enthusiastic rebellion had planted their capital almost within 
cannon-shot of Washington, which stood on the fringe of rebellious 
territory. Several border States, the very garden of the Republic, 
were divided — one side sending thousands of soldiers to fight for 
the Confederacy and the other side thousands to fight for the Union. 

The North itself was contentious, a considerable portion of its 
people sympathizing and siding with secession. Enlistments were 
on the wane. The Mississippi River was blockaded in the south- 
west and the Potomac in the east. The streets and resorts of Wash- 
ington swarmed with military officers who should have been at the 
front. A majority of the residents of the District of Columbia, the 
chief banking institution at the Federal capital, and hundreds of 
Government employes were secret aiders and abettors of seces- 
sion. The banks of the nation had suspended specie payment. 
Many divisions of the army had passed several pay-days without 
meeting the paymaster. Quantities of goods consumed by the 
armies and the people and even flag materials were purchased 
abroad, thus sending the product of the California gold mines to 
European banks which, refusing financial aid to the North, sub- 
scribed for all the Confederate securities that were offered. 

France and England were watching for an excuse to recognize 
the Confederacy as an independent nation ; Government expendi- 
tures were a quarter of a billion above the highest estimates and still 
increasing; national credit was weakening; army contractors and 
speculators were looting the Treasury and robbing the soldiery; 
Lincoln was gloomy, and over the rocking Republic shadows hung 
low and dark. 

In the War Ofitice was found a continuation of the chaos that 
prevailed without. Colonel A. P. Heichold of Pennsylvania says 


that "on the day Stanton was sworn in, his Department resembled 
a great lunatic asylum more than anything else," but Secretary 
Cameron was not the full author of the chaos. Lincoln had been at 
logger-heads with his war minister, while Seward, assuming a wide 
range of military power which belonged exclusively to the War 
Department, added to the general demoralization by arresting so- 
called "State prisoners" and formulating the domestic as well as 
foreign war policy of the administration.* Thus, Stanton found the 
entire prospect beset with difficulties. 

On the day of his confirmation he consulted with the "commit- 
tee on loyalty of Federal employes" in order to learn who in his De- 
partment and who generally in the service could be trusted and who 
must be arrested or dismissed. On the day he was sworn in he "Or- 
dered: That the War Department will be closed Tuesdays, Wednes- 
days, Thursdays, and Fridays against all business except that which 
relates to active military operations in the field. Saturdays will be 
devoted to the business of senators and representatives; Mondays 
to the business of the public." Also that "the Secretary of War 
will transact no business and see no person at his residence." On 
the same day he met the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the 
War and the military committees of both Houses at his own re- 
quest, to secure the benefit of whatever information they might im- 
part and bring the legislative into cordial working line with the ex- 
ecutive branch of the war-power and keep it there. "We must strike 
hands," he said to Chairman Wade, "and, uniting our strength and 
thought, double the power of the Government to suppress its ene- 
mies and restore its integrity." 

On the following day, January 22, he requested the cabinet (W. 
H. Seward, secretary of state ; Salmon P. Chase, secretary of the 
treasury; Gideon Welles, secretary of the navy; Edward Bates, 
attorney-general; Montgomery Blair, postmaster-general; Caleb B. 
Smith, secretary of the interior), individually and collectively, to 
contribute whatever aid or suggestion might be deemed advisable 
to strengthen his hands, and shouted his first order to the army in 

*In his testimony before an investigating committee of Congress, 
Stanton observed significantly in reply to a question as to Seward's usur- 
pations: "I believe that Mr. Seward at one period of the war, prior to my 
becoming secretary, exercised considerable military power. I considered 
myself, as secretary of war, to be in charge of the military department and 
Mr. Seward in charge of the civil department," 


the form of a message of thanks and praise for the "brilliant victory 
achieved by the United States forces over a large body of armed 
traitors and rebels at Mill Spring, in the State of Kentucky." 

Thus he went sw^iftly from point to point, touching them all as 
with a rod of fire, until the magic of his influence reached every De- 
partment of the Government, both branches of Congress, every 
division and camp of the army, every monetary center,* every com- 
munity of patriots, and every captive in an insurgent prison. 

*The financial reports from New York and the leading monetary jour- 
nals announced a "marked upward turn and advanced strength" in Gov- 
ernment securities "owing to the change in the War Department at Wash- 
ington and the energetic character of the new incumbent." 


On page 163, Volume H., "Battles and Leaders of the Civil 
War," George B. McClellan says : "I had never met Mr. Stanton be- 
fore reaching Washington in [July 26] 1861. He at once sought me 
and professed the utmost personal affection." 

McClellan was not sought by Stanton "at once" nor at any 
other time. He never met him until November, 1861, and then 
professionally at McClellan's ov^n request. On November 8, 1861, 
Captain Charles Wilkes of the United States w^ar-ship San Jacinto, 
boarded the British mail steamship Trent with an armed force and 
secured the persons and baggage of James M. Mason and John Sli- 
dell, envoys of the Confederate "government" to England and France 
and bearers of contraband despatches, and took them to Fort War- 
ren, near Boston. England, strongly disposed to espouse the cause 
of the rebellious States, sent ships and soldiers to Canada to rein- 
force any diplomatic correspondence which might arise with Wash- 
ington, unojfficially threatened to seize Portland, Maine, and de- 
manded the release of the prisoners. S. L. M. Barlow of New York 
states how this affair brought Stanton and McClellan together: 

I was in Washington at the request of General McClellan. The Mason 
and Slidell imbroglio was under consideration and the General had been 
asked to attend a cabinet meeting the next day when the question as 
to their retention or surrender would be determined. He asked my opinion 
as to our right to hold them. I replied that the matter was so serious that 
I preferred to ask some other lawyer to aid me. He asked, "Whom would 
you go to?" I answered, "To Mr. Stanton, who is an able lawyer." He as- 
sented to this, though he did not know Mr. Stanton. 

I spent the morning with the latter and after a careful examination of 
the question, we both agreed that our right to hold Mason and Slidell was 
doubtful; that it was plain we must surrender them unless the Government 
was prepared for immediate hostilities with England. I made the report 
to General McClellan, who was much inclined, nevertheless, to hold the en- 
voys and risk a war with England. The same evening I presented Mr. Stan- 
ton, which was the beginning of their acquaintance. From that evening for 


a week or thereabouts Mr. Stanton was consulted by the General every 
day and sometimes both in the morning early and in the evening. 

One part of Judge Barlow's statement is proven by McClellan's 
letters to his wife, which mention frequent visits to Stanton's 
house during November. On the 17th he wrote : "I shall try again 
to write a few lines before going to Mr. Stanton to ascertain the law 
of nations relative to the seizure of Mason and Slidell." On the 24th 
he wrote : "I am concealed at Stanton's to avoid all enemies in the 
shape of browsing Presidents," etc. 

Thus is the falsity of McClellan's opening statement that in 
July, 1861, Stanton "at once sought him" established by his own 
and other private correspondence, together with the further fact 
that he himself was the seeker "every day and sometimes both in 
the morning early and in the evening." While this "seeking" Vv^as 
going on, the following correspondence passed : 

New York, November 21, 1861. 
Dear Sir: 

I am glad to learn by the papers of to-day that there has been a col- 
lision of sentiment between Cameron and Smith. Such quarrels should be 
fostered in every proper way, though the General [McClellan] must, if 
possible, keep entirely free from them. 

Since my return home I have met hundreds of our most prominent citi- 
zens, and my ability to speak with confidence as to the power of our army, 
and especially my entire belief in McClellan, have enabled me, I think, to 
be of real service. I have been of course very careful not in any way to 
undertake to represent McClellan's views in any respect, while the fact that 
I saw so much of McClellan most effectually closes my mouth on the sub- 
ject of his movements, though in fact I really know nothing. 

If you learn anything as to the Mason-Slidell case which you can 
properly communicate, let me hear from you. 

Public opinion here is pretty well settled in favor of our right, but at 
the same time we do not want another war or even a serious diplomatic 
correspondence, and I would knuckle a little to John Bull, waiting for some 
time to pay him back. 

This is of even more importance, in view of the undoubted fact that 
Louis Napoleon is inclined to put his finger in our pie, than it otherwise 
would be. 

Yours very truly. 
The Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, S. L. M. Barlow. 

Washington, D. C. 

Washington, D. C, November 23, 1861. 
Dear Sir: 

yours of the 21st reached me this iTiorning. Nothing has transpired 


in respect to the Trent affair. I saw the General [McClellan] last evening. 
He was well and much pleased with his late review. Lord Lyons [the 
British minister] did not attend; all the others of the diplomatic corps were 
there. I mentioned the Smith and Cameron affair* in yesterday's note and 
I perceived this morning allusion to it in the papers. Cameron, Chase, and 
Seward are said to agree on the negro arming question. Smith, Blair, and 
Lincoln contra. 

I think the General's true course ts to mind his own Department and win a vic- 
tory. After that all other things will be of easy settlement. 

Yours truly, 
S. L. M. Barlow, Esq. Edwin M. Stanton. 

The foregoing Barlow letter discloses that the politicians of the 
party to which McClellan belonged were already engaged in an 
effort to hamper and break down the administration by promoting 
quarrels among its members, the beneficiary of which was to be 
QMcClellan himself, although, "if possible, he was to keep entirely 
free from them." But Stanton, belonging to the same party, con- 
demned such efforts during a period of national distress and de- 
sired McClellan, instead of dabbling in politics, to "mind his own 
Department and win a victory." 

On page 159 of his "Own Story" McClellan states that Stanton 
"no doubt made use of his pretended friendship for me to secure 
his appointment" as secretary of war ; and elsewhere, that "he 
climbed on my shoulders only for the purpose of throwing me 
down." The following extracts from a letter to S. L. M. Barlow, 
written January 7, 1862, four days before the appointment was de- 
cided upon, show that Stanton had no intimation of a change in 
the War Department, and that the insinuations to the contrary are 
pure fiction : 

From the day you left here until the present time there has been no 
improvement in public affairs, save General McClellan's accession to chief 
command, but his illness has in a great measure prevented the good conse- 
quences which might have resulted from that event. His health is now im- 

Your anticipation that he would be assailed by certain parties, I think, 
is well founded. No direct assault upon him has yet been made, but there 
have been several indirect lunges, the object whereof cannot be mistaken. 
Fremont is now here and divers rumors abound as to the designs of his 
partisans; whether any of them be true or not, time only will show. 

♦The "Smith and Cameron affair" resulted, a few days later, in putting 
Stanton into the cabinet. See Chapter XIX. 


The surrender of Mason and Slidell was a political necessity, but I 
doubt whether it will avoid war. My private advices from England repre- 
sent a nearly unanimous and almost frantic hostility of the English people 
to our Government, which the power of the ministry cannot restrain, if it 
desired so to do. The French feeling is no better. The fact is that there 
seems to be an outbreak of hostility against our republican form of govern- 
ment, combined with a bitter contempt for the administration, which in- 
duces foreign powers to seize the chance of the hour to destroy us. On 
our part there appears no consciousness of the dangers, or ability to avoid 
them. Seward says, "all's well," and that is enough for the Republicans. 

Thus McCIellan's assertions that Stanton "climbed on his 
shoulders only for the purpose of throwing him down" and "made 
use of his pretended friendship for me to secure his appointment" 
as secretary, are seen to be absolute fabrications. 

On Wednesday (January 15) Stanton was confirmed and next 
morning proceeded to headquarters to open the day with a confer- 
ence with McClellan. He was accompanied by General Stewart 
Van VHet, a member of McCIellan's staff. 

McCIellan's headquarters were on Jackson Square, where he 
held a "levee" with his staff at 10 every morning and another at 
9 every night. He was preparing to hold one of these fantastic 
functions when Stanton's card was sent up, but continued to 
dawdle with his aides, orderlies, and other satraps, thus keeping 
his distinguished caller in waiting the full hour required for this 
tawdry nonsense. General Van Vliet says Stanton was very much 
incensed and inquired "what sort of a commanding general the 
country had." Under the previous regime, after the accession of 
McClellan, the Secretary of War had been little more than a clerk. 
The grand moving, or unmoving power in Washington was the 
General-in-Chief, and his first step, after Stanton's appointment, was 
to give the new Secretary a lesson in subordination, which, says 
General Van Vliet, "brought destruction to its author." 

On Monday, January 20, "all the officers in the regular service 
called upon the new Secretary of War according to custom," headed 
by McClellan. At the conclusion of the introduction, Stanton ad- 
dressed his callers : 

I do not attempt to conceal the pleasure I feel at meeting so fine and 
capable a body of men; yet we are not here for personal pleasure or grati- 
fication, but for a great and holy purpose. Our Government is assailed 
and our country is in peril. We have been called upon to save them and we 


must, we shall, be equal to the call. It is my work to furnish the means, 
the instruments, for prosecuting the war for the Union and putting down 
the Rebellion against it. It is your duty to use those instruments, andJ 
mine to see to it that you do use them.* 

The foregoing address accentuates the beginning of what Mc- 
Clellan terms his "serious difficulties" with Stanton, whose "man- 
ner," he said, was "oflfensive." 

The vigor with which the War Department was being re- 
galvanized attracted the attention of Charles A. Dana, then of the 
New York Tribune, who, in a letter of congratulation, called at- 
tention to certain cotton rascalities among Federal officers in the 
South, to which Stanton replied on January 24 : 

The facts you mention are new to me, but there is too much reason 
to fear they are true. But that matter will, I think, be corrected very 
speedily. Every man who wishes the country to pass through this trying 
hour should stand on watch, and aid me. Bad passions gather around and 
hem in the great movements that should deliver this nation. 

Two days ago I wrote you a long letter — a three-pager — expressing my 
thanks for your admirable article of the 21st, stating my position and pur- 
poses; and in that letter I mentioned some of the circumstances of my un- 
expected appointment. But, interrupted before it was completed, I will not 
afflict you with it. I know the task that is before us. I say us, because the 
Tribune has its mission as plainly as I have mine, and both tend to the same 
end. But I am not in the smallest degree dismayed or disheartened. By 
God's blessing we shall prevail. I feel a deep, earnest feeling growing up 
around me. We now have no jokes or trivialities; but all with whom I act 
show that they are now in dead earnest. I know that you will rejoice to 
know this. As soon as I can get the machinery of the office working, the 
rats cleared out, and the rat-holes stopped, we shall move. This army has 
got to -fight or run away; and while men are striving nobly in the West, the cham- 
pagne and oysters on the Potomac must be stopped. But patience for a short 
while is all I ask, if you and others like you will rally around me. 

In the above letter, the expression "we now have no jokes or 
trivialities," refers to the fact that while Lincoln was "swapping 
yarns" with his other cabinet officers and the heads of Departments 
he did not joke with Stanton or consume a second of his time not 
required for the consideration of public business. 

The phrase "champagne and oysters on the Potomac," refers 
to the round of poppinjay dinners inaugurated by McClellan (un- 

*Major A. E. H. Johnson, who entered the War Office with Stanton, 
says: "When Mr. Stanton came to the final sentence of his wonderful 
little speech, he turned his face straight toward General McClellan." 


der the guidance of Wormley, the famous caterer) after he was ap- 
pointed general-in-chief.* This social revelry exasperated Stanton, 
who knew that the commanders in the West, although living on 
hard-tack and cofifee and sleeping on the ground, were fighting and 
driving the enemy at every opportunity. 

*Says John F. Coyle, editor of the National Intelligencer at the time: 
"While he had his headquarters in Washington, General McClellan gave 
an elaborate dinner with several courses of wine almost every afternoon. 
T was frequently present and do not recall that at any time there were less 
than twenty guests at the board — not the friends of the administration or 
the war, either; such were never invited. McClellan was the head of so- 
ciety in Washington, and society was overwhelmingly in favor of secession. 
After dinner McClellan and his staff, in full dress uniform, mounted and 
went clattering up and down the public streets. He had no reason for 
going, except to be seen. It was ridiculous." 


On August 1, 1861, Secretary Cameron made Thomas A. Scott 
of Pennsylvania assistant secretary by an "order." Under Stanton 
the order was succeeded by a law — which also amply enlarged the 
clerical force — Mr. Scott continuing for the time being in ofifice. 
John Tucker, controlling officer of the Philadelphia and Reading 
Railroad, was made second-assistant, to have general supervision 
of contracts and chartering steamers, transports, and craft for 
the use of the army. For third-assistant he chose his old friend 
and partner, Peter Hill Watson, who gave up a law business of 
fifty thousand dollars a year to accept the call of patriotism. 

Having partly reorganized his Department and provided for its 
most pressing necessities as best he could within a few days, Stanton 
made a wider reconnoissance. Finding over one thousand four 
hundred nominations pending on the military list, he suspended all 
of them, thus inviting the opening assault of a personal warfare that 
became wide-spread, incessant, and malignant. He "wanted to ex- 
amine into the matter," he explained, as "merit or honors won on 
the field ought to determine promotions and nominations" but his 
explanation was nothing — the friends of one thousand four hundred 
persons, in addition to the persons themselves, were disappointed 
and vengeful. 

Discovering that arms, clothing, and supplies for the armies 
were largely purchased in Europe, he said to Secretary Chase: "If 
these things were purchased at home, the flow of gold abroad 
would be stopped and our factories lifted from depression." There- 
fore, in the famous official "Order" of January 29, 1862, he declared : 

1. That no further contracts be made by this Department or any bu- 
reau thereof for any article of foreign manufacture that can be produced 
in the United States. 

2. All outstanding orders, agencies, authorities, or licenses for the 
purchase of arms, clothing, or anything else in foreign countries, or of for- 
eign manufacture, for this Department, are revoked and annulled. 


Great and far-sighted as this conception proved to be, Lincoln 
was "afraid it would exasperate our friends over the water" and 
Seward opposed it as likely to "complicate the foreign situation." 

"It will have to be issued," replied Stanton, "or very soon 
there will be no situation to complicate." 

That closed the argument. The order went forth and created 
the industrial era in America, against the ever-increasing pressure 
of which, throughout the world, the nations are still groaning their 
protests. It made of the United States a self-supporting and ten- 
fold more expansive, glorious, and powerful nation than it was be- 
fore. It was one of the most pregnant edicts ever issued by an 
American ofificer, and it is one of the few adequate measures of 
Stanton's greatness. 

Part 4 of this same order of January 29 was aimed at corrupt 
and fraudulent contracts, against which the country was clamoring 
and which Congress was at that moment trying to investigate. He 
Ordered : 

4. All contracts, orders, and arrangements for army supplies must 
be in writing, and signed by the contracting parties, and the original or a 
copy thereof, according to paragraph 1,049 of the regulations, filed with 
the head of the proper bureau. * * * Every claim founded 
upon any pretended contract, bargain, agreement, order, warrant, authority, 
or license now outstanding, of which notice and a copy is not filed in ac- 
cordance with this order within the period mentioned, shall be deemed 
and held to be prima facie fraudulent and void, and no claim thereon will be 
allowed or paid by this Department unless upon full and satisfactory 
proof of its validity. 

For a time consternation reigned about Washington, and great 
pressure was exerted to have section 4 revoked or modified. Btit 
it stood, saving the Treasury millions upon millions of dollars and 
making thousands of enemies for its author. 

An exceedingly offensive spectacle to Stanton at this time was 
the crowd of soldiers — privates as well as officers — loafing, lobby- 
ing, speculating, and carousing about Washington. "Soldiers must 
be on duty and the army will now have to earn its living," he de- 
clared, and issued orders sending all connected with the military 
establishment to their respective posts. The effect was so salutary 
that the newspapers remarked, on January 29, that "fewor soldiers 
are seen in Washington than at any time since the commencement 
of the Rebellion." 


A second letter to C. A. Dana, written on February 1, shows 
that he appreciated the weight of the heavy burdens he had under- 
taken to carry: 

If General Fremont has any fight in him he shall (so far as I am con- 
cerned) have a chance to show it, and I have told him so. The times re- 
quire the help of every man according to his gifts; and having neither par- 
tialities nor grudges to indulge, it will be my aim to practise on the 
maxim, "the tools to him that can handle them." 

To bring the War Department up to the standard of the times, and 
work an army of five hundred thousand with machinery adapted to a 
peace establishment of twelve thousand is no easy task. This was Mr. Cam- 
eron's great trouble, and the cause of much of the complaints against him. 
All I ask is reasonable time and patience. The pressure of members of Con- 
gress for clerk and army appointments notwithstanding the most stringent 
rules, and the persistent strain against all measures essential to obtain time 
for thought, combination, and conference, are discouraging in the ex- 
treme. They often tempt me to quit the helm in despair. The only con- 
solation is the confidence and support of good and patriotic men. To their 
aid I look for strength. 

The changes and reforms necessary to "bring the Department 
up to the standard of the times" were executed only at the expense 
of Herculean effort. Indeed, so extraordinary were his exertions 
that on the 10th of February he was prostrated by vertigo and con- 
veyed from the Department in an insensible condition. He soon 
recovered, however, and raced along as before. 

Having entered the Department free from entanglements — 
without friends to reward, foes to punish, or political debts to dis- 
charge — he proposed to hold to a just and independent course re- 
gardless of criticism and personal dissatisfaction. But when the vic- 
tories at Fort Henry (February 6, 1862) and Fort Donelson (Feb- 
ruary 16, 1862) were credited by the newspapers to the spirit and 
energy which he had instilled into the military establishment, he 
was frightened and sent the following generous sentiment by tele- 
graph, which was published, over his signature, on February 20, in 
the New York Tribune : 

I cannot suffer undue merit to be ascribed to my official actions. The 
glories of our recent victory belong to the gallant officers and soldiers that 
fought the battles. No share of it belongs to me. 

Much has recently been said of military combinations and organizing 
victory. I hear such phrases with apprehension. They commenced in 
infidel France with the Italian campaign and resulted in Waterloo. Who 
can organize victory? Who can combine the elements of success on the 


battlefield? We owe our recent victories to the spirit of the Lord that 
moved our soldiers to rush into battle and filled the hearts of our enemies 
with dismay. The inspiration that conquered in battle was in the hearts 
of the soldiers and from on high; and wherever there is the same inspiration 
there will be the same results. Patriotic spirit, with resolute courage in 
officers and men, is a military combination that never fails. 

We may well rejoice at recent victories, for they teach us that battles 
are to be won now by us in the same and only manner that they wene 
won by any people, or in any age, since the days of Joshua — by boldly 
pursuing and striking the foe. What, under the blessings of Providence, 
I conceive to be the true organization of victory and military combination 
to end this war, was declared in a few words by General Grant's message 
to General Buckner: "/ propose to move immediately upon your u'orks." 

To Mr. Dana, Stanton wrote privately an explanation of his 
reason for sending the despatch : "It occurred to me that your kind 
notices of myself might be perverted into a disparagement of the 
Western officers and soldiers to whom the merit of the recent vic- 
tories justly belongs, and that it might create an antagonism be- 
tween them and the head of the War Department. To avoid that 
misconstruction was the object of my despatch." 

After he had forwarded it he telegraphed to Mr. Dana that his 
revised judgment was against publishing the despatch, but it was 
published nevertheless. On the day in which it appeared the asso- 
ciated press, in reporting a meeting of railway officials and man- 
agers at which Stanton spoke, put certain words into his mouth. 
Charles A. Dana, doubting the accuracy of the report, sent it 
to Stanton, who, on February 23, replied : 

The paragraph* to which you call my attention is a ridiculous and 
impertinent effort to puflf the General by a false publication of words I never 
uttered. Sam Barlow of New York, one of the secretaries of the meeting, 
was its author, as I have been informed. It is too small a matter for me 
to contradict, but I told Mr. Kimlen, the other secretary, that I thought 
the gentlemen who invited me to be present at their meeting owed it to 
themselves to see that one of their own officers should not misrepresent 
what I said. It was for them, and due to their own honor, to see that an 
officer of the Government might communicate with them in safety. And 

*Thus the associated press reported: "Secretary Stanton in the course of 
his address paid a high compliment to the young and gallant friend at his 
side, Major-General McClellan, in whom he had the utmost confidence, and 
the result of whose military schemes, gigantic and well-matured, were 
now exhibited to a rejoicing country. The Secretary, with upraised hands, im- 
plored Almighty God to aid them and himself, and all occupying positions 
under the Government in crushing out this unholy Rebellion." 


if it were not done, I should take care to offer no other opportunity for 
such practises. The fact is that the agents of the associated press, and a 
gang around the Federal capital, appear to be organized for the pur- 
pose of magnifying their idol. If such men as those who compose the rail- 
road convention in this city do not rebuke such a practise as was perpetrated 
in this instance, they cannot be conferred with in the future. 

You will of course see the propriety of my not noticing the matter, and 
thereby giving it importance beyond the contempt it inspires. I think you 
are well enough acquainted with me to judge in the future of the value of 
any such statement. 

I notice that the Herald telegraphic reporter announces that I had a 
second attack of illness on Friday and could not attend the Department. 
I was in the Department, or in cabinet, from 9 A. M. until 9 at night, 
and never enjoyed more perfect health than on that day and at present. 

Was it not funny to see a certain military hero [General McClellan] in 
the telegraph office at Washington last Sunday organizing victory, and 
by sublime military combinations capturing Fort Donelson six hours after 
Grant and Smith had taken it, sword in hand, and had victorious possession? 
It would make a picture worthy of Punch. 

Stanton set apart two rooms in the War Department building 
for the exclusive use of the General-in-Chief, in order to have the 
two great machines for putting forth the war-power working har- 
moniously hand in hand. At McClellan's other headquarters, on 
the corner of Jackson Square, conspicuous opponents of the ad- 
ministration and the war, like George H. Pendleton and Clement 
L. Vallandigham of Ohio, Henry M. Rice of Minnesota, and Mil- 
ton S. Latham of California, together with many private citizens of 
like sympathies, were constant visitors. To them, changing the 
headquarters from a private dwelling to public apartments adjoin- 
ing Stanton's office, proved to be very unsatisfactory, as it did also 
to McClellan, who says he "entered the rooms but few times." 

After almost a year of silence Stanton, on March 1, 1862, wrote 
again to Buchanan: 

I hasten to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 25th, which 
reached me this morning. 

Several letters written by me about the time mentioned in yours failed 
to reach their destination from some unknown cause. Into whatever hands 
they may have fallen they cannot prejudice any one, inasmuch as they 
related to facts that are public and historic. I will give directions to furnish 
you with the copies you desire without delay. But yours reminds me of 
a matter to which Judge Black called my attention soon after the date of my 
letter to you on the 10th of March. On his return from a visit to Wheat- 
land, he surprised me by stating that my letter to you mentioned that he and 
myself approved the order, issued to the commander of the Brooklyn, sus- 


pending the debarkation of troops at Pickens, whereas it was well known 
to yourself and every member of the cabinet then present, that both Judge 
Black and myself had earnestly opposed that order, and argued strongly 
against it. And in my correspondence with you it is stated that on con- 
ference with General Dix and Judge Black we coincided in our remembrance 
of the fact. He accounted for the statement in the letter by the supposition 
that, in the haste of writing, the word "not" was accidentally omitted. From 
one of your letters to me it appears that after having the subject called 
to your attention, your remembrance did not differ from ours as to the 
fact. I rntntion this, not as anything material to you or myself, but only 
as due to the truth. 

The failure of my former letters to reach you last spring induced me 
to suspend any correspondence for a considerable period upon political 
subjects, and hence I omitted to write you concerning the events then 
and subsequently transpiring. 

My accession to my present position was quite as sudden and un- 
expected as the confidence you bestowed upon me in calling me to your 
cabinet, and the responsible trust was accepted in both instances from 
the same motives, and will be executed with the same fidelity to the con- 
stitution and laws. 

Your friend, Mr. Flinn, a short time ago, showed me a note to him 
from you, wherein you were kind enough to express a favorable opinion 
of me that gratified me exceedingly, and it has been in my mind to make 
acknowledgment, but it has been prevented until now by the intense 
pressure of my official engagements. 

You may have noticed a resolution offered a short time ago by Mr. 
Train in the House.* That resolution has not yet been answered by me, 
but on inquiry I find it had only in view obtaining a letter written by a 
subordinate officer in one of the Departments, involving no one else but him- 

I thank you sincerely for the suggestion you make in regard to writing 
letters. I have written but one,t and that was prompted by a sense of 
justice to others and to disclaim merit in which I had no share. The sug- 
gestion will be carefully heeded. 

*"Resolved: That the Secretary of War be directed to report to this 
House any correspondence which may be found on the files of his Depart- 
ment tending to show preparation by any State for an armed and treasonable 
rebellion against the Union." 

fPublished on Feb. 20, in the New York Tribune.—See p. 129. 


The number of arrests made under his so-called "arbitrary" 
authority during the war, including deserters and bounty-jumpers, 
reached nearly two hundred and sixty thousand. Rank or station 
was no shield. When there was a report that General Judson Kil- 
patrick had seized livestock in Virginia and converted forage to his 
private use, Stanton jerked him into the Old Capitol prison at 
Washington before he could write an explanation. General Custer 
went over the same route at the same pace, on a similar charge. 
Subsequently both were released, but the lightning-like swiftness 
of their incarceration exerted a salutary influence throughout the 

These so-called "arbitrary arrests" have always constituted a 
fruitful source of complaint against Stanton by those who felt his 
power or opposed the war. As a matter of fact there are no "ar- 
bitrary arrests" within military limitations. Ofifenses and crimes 
against the Government in time of war are well known and well de- 
fined, and their authors and those suspected of them may always be 
arrested summarily by an officer of the military establishment. 
When Stanton became secretary he found the arrest and custody 
of so-called "State prisoners" in the hands of the State Department, 
and a source of much confusion and dissatisfaction. On February 
14, 1862, he issued an order releasing all political prisoners on pa- 
role not to render aid or comfort to the enemies of the United States, 
and declaring that "hereafter all extraordinary arrests will be made 
under the authority of the military authorities alone." 

Nearly all civil courts resented military arrests outside of the 
insurrectionary districts, and many went further. They declared 
that the President had not delegated his powers to any other per- 
son, and that, therefore, all arrests made under the orders of gen- 
erals or other military officers were illegal and void. To eliminate 
any cause for pretending to entertain this erroneous view, Stanton 
issued the following, on August 8, 1862 : 


Ordered 1,. — That all United States marshals and superintendents 
and chiefs of police, of any town, city, or district, be and they are hereby 
authorized and directed to arrest and imprison any person or persons who 
may be engaged by any act of speech or writing in discouraging volunteer 
enlistments or in any way giving aid and comfort to the enemy, or in 
any disloyal practise against the United States. 

He then requested the President to issue a general proclama- 
tion suspending- the writ of habeas corpus in respect to "all rebels 
and insurgents, their aiders and abettors within the United States, 
and all persons discouraging volunteer enlistments, resisting mili- 
tary drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practises, or affording aid and 
comfort to the rebels against the authority of the United States," 
which was done on the 24th of September, 1862. 

The next moment he created a new Department in the mili- 
tary service and appointed a provost marshal general (J. B. Fry) 
with subordinate provost marshals in the several States, charged 
with arresting deserters and disloyal persons and "inquiring into 
and suppressing treasonable practises throughout the country." 
Referring to military arrests in his report to Congress of December, 
1862, he said : 

While military arrests of disloyal persons form a subject of complaint 
in some States, the discharge of such persons is complained of in othpr 
States. It has been the aim of the Department to avoid any encroachment 
upon individual rights, as far as may be consistent with public safety and 
the preservation of the Government. But reflecting minds will see that no 
greater encouragement can be given to the enemy, no more dangerous 
act of hostility can be perpetrated in this war, than efforts to prevent 
recruiting and enlisting for the armies, upon whose strength national 
existence depends. The expectations of rebel leaders and their sym- 
pathizers in loyal States that the call for volunteers would not be 
answered, and that the draft could not be enforced, have failed, and nothing 
is left but to clamor at the means by which their hopes were frustrated, 
and to strive to disarm the Government in future if, in the chances of 
war, another occasion for increasing the military forces should arise. 

Writs of habeas corpus to release those arrested under military 
authority continued to be issued in great numbers, many courts 
declaring that "the military must be held subordinate to the ju- 
diciary" in order to "protect the rights and liberties of the people" 
■ — "people" meaning those who opposed the war, and "rights and 
liberties" meaning license to carry out disloyal purposes. There- 
upon Stanton issued orders that such writs should be obeyed when 
issued by Federal but ignored when issued by State courts, sus- 


tained therein by a ruling by Chief Justice Taney, a pro-slavery 
Democrat, in the slave-catching case of Ableman vs. Booth, from 
Wisconsin, in which the decision was that United States marshals 
were not bound to heed the processes of State courts, but if neces- 
sary, must resist them. 

More than once Stanton took official notice of the hostility of a 
large section of the judiciary. On June 1, 1863, in a letter asking 
Secretary Seward to see the United States District Attorney for 
New York and urge him to "lend the aid of his office in enforcing 
the laws," he declared : "There never has been any assistance ren- 
dered by civil [judicial] officers to the Government in this war 
where they could get a colorable pretext for withholding it." 

A few days later, in a communication to the President concern- 
ing the question of restricting the "interference of State courts 
with persons held in military custody by force," he said : "There ap- 
pears to be an evident design on the part of some individuals holding 
judicial stations in different States, including Pennsylvania, to ex- 
ercise their powers in hostility to the general Government in its 
efforts to repress the Rebellion, and especially with the view of 
preventing the operation of the draft and encouraging desertion." 

To Governor Tod of Ohio, he wrote : "The courts, which might 
do so much for, are generally a hindrance to military operations ; 
and in the time of war war-operations are paramount, if we are to 
save the Government." 

The famous case of General C. P. Stone, under whom, on Oc- 
tober 22, 1861, was fought the disastrous battle of Ball's Bluff, 
has been a permanent basis for attacking Stanton. Immediately 
after that engagement men in the command wrote to John A. An- 
drew, governor of Massachusetts, that Stone was in the habit 
of returning escaped slaves to their masters, forwarding Confeder- 
ate mail, and associating with secessionists. Andrew replied that 
Stone's orders in respect to such matters should not be obeyed ; 
Stone wrote to the adjutant-general protesting against State in- 
terference; the adjutant-general transmitted the protest to Andrew; 
Andrew forwarded it to Senator Charles Sumner; Sumner de- 
nounced Stone on the floor of the Senate ; Stone wrote a letter to 
Sumner intended to bring on a duel, and Sumner turned the letter 
over to Cameron, then secretary of war. 

Out of the discussion thus precipitated grew the famous Com- 
mittee on the Conduct of the War, headed by the resolute and fear- 


less Benjamin F. Wade, who at once began to take testimony con- 
cerning the case. A prima facie basis for court-martial proceed- 
ings was established, and Stanton, who had just succeeded Cam- 
eron as secretary of war, ordered General McClellan to cause 
Stone's arrest and imprisonment* on the record and report pre- 

In addition to written testimony and evidence, the advice of the 
Committee on the Conduct of the War and the demands of Gov- 
ernor Andrew, which he could not disregard, Stanton possessed 
sources of information not open to others. A sister of two of the 
mulatto slaves returned by Stone was a servant in the home of 
Adjutant-General Townsend and disclosed that Mrs. Stone was 
acquainted with or related to the owners of the slaves and with 
other secessionists in the vicinity, which fact influenced her hus- 
band to establish a friendly intercourse with people not loyal to 
the Government. Even if devoid of disloyal purposes, this inter- 
course, because it could not be explained, was demoralizing to the 
army and irritating to the country. 

Stone was confined at Fort Lafayette, near New York, during 
a period of one hundred and eighty-nine days, without trial. He 
was liberated on August 16, by the operation of the act of July 17, 
1862. A year or more later he resigned his commission and entered 
the service of the Khedive of Egypt to become Stone Pasha. 

That there was no escape from ordering his arrest is beyond 
question ;f and, if his long imprisonment without trial seems un- 
just, the truth remains that the episode wrought great good to the 
service. It taught officers who were socially mingling and sympa- 
thizing with and personally favoring secessionists, that they could 
not serve both God and Mammon. It resulted in an additional ar- 
ticle of war which forbade any officer from using or permitting 

*0n p. 50, Part II., "Report on the Conduct of the War," General Mc- 
Clellan testified: "On the day of the arrest, a written report was made 
to me of the examination of a refugee from Leesburg, which, so far as such 
a thing could, tended to corroborate some of the charges made against 
General Stone. I satisfied my mind by personal examination of the 
sincerity of the refugee, and then showed the statement to the Secretary of 
War, upon which he directed me to give the order to arrest General Stone 

fLincoln stated in a message on the subject to Congress: "Whether 
he [Stone] be guilty or innocent, circumstances required, as appears to 
me, such proceedings to be had against him for the public safety." 

John Tucker, 
Assistant Secretary of War. 


the use of his command to catch and return fugitive slaves on paiu 
of dismissal, and established the famous Committee on the Con- 
duct of the War, each member of v^hich was provided with a card 
of admission to Stanton's room "at all times." 

Stanton possessed an unconquerable purpose to put down the 
Rebellion and restore the Union ; but he must have men, money, 
supplies, and munitions to do it with, which came alone from 
Congress and the governors and legislatures of the loyal States. 
Governor Andrew stated bluntly that Massachusetts would raise 
and equip no more troops if they were to be placed under such 
commanders as Stone, and was sustained in that position by the 
other loyal governors, the press, and the majority of Congress. 
Stanton must either shut up Stone or shut off enlistments in Massa- 
chusetts and dampen military ardor throughout the North. He 
made no mistake in siding with Congress and the executives of loy- 
al States. 

As to holding Stone in long imprisonment without trial, Stan- 
ton himself declared: "To hold one commander in prison untried 
is less harmful in times of great national distress than to withdraw 
several good officers from active battle-fields to give him a trial. 
Individuals are nothing ; we are contributing thousands of them to 
save the Union, and General Stone in Fort Lafayette is doing his 
share in that direction." 


General George B. McClellan, who was brought to Washing- 
ton by General Scott on the 26th of July, 1861, and on November 
1 was given command of all the armies of the Union, had not yet 
made a decisive move with his splendid legions. 

The Federal Treasury was on the verge of bankruptcy ; capital- 
ists were frightened, patriots discouraged. Stanton, coming into 
the arena fresh from the masses, comprehended the dangerous 
trend of affairs and gave articulation to the wrath of the people. He 
said to Lincoln : "You are commander-in-chief under the constitu- 
tion and must act as such or the Government is lost. You must or- 
der McClellan to move. I think he will obey ; if not, put some one 
in his place who will obey." 

Lincoln, acting promptly, drew with his own hand "Presi- 
dential Order No. 1" and Stanton prepared the famous Special 
Order No. 1 of January 27, 1862, for a general advance against the 
insurgent forces on the 22d of February following — the day on 
which Davis was to be installed at Richmond — ending thus: "Es- 
pecially the Secretaries of War and Navy, with all their subordin- 
ates, and the General-in-Chief * * * ^jn severally be 
held to strict and full responsibility for the prompt execution of this 

Although specially mentioning the Secretaries of War and 
Navy, McClellan assumed that the order was really intended for 
himself alone, so he alone objected to its execution. On the 
3d of February Stanton received from him a voluminous memo- 
randum of objections, one of the principal ones being the "uncer- 
tainty of the weather." So emphatic was McClellan that Lincoln, 
contrary to Stanton's advice, agreed to submit his own general 
plans of advance with McClellan's, to a council of twelve generals. 

The council consisted of Generals Fitz-John Porter, Franklin, 
W. F. Smith, McCall, Blenker, Andrew Porter, Negley, and Keyes 
who voted for, and McDowell, Sumner, Heintzelman, and Bar- 


nard* who voted against the McClellan plan. 

In debating the judgment of this council the President said to 
Stanton: "We can do nothing else than adopt this plan, and dis- 
card all others. With eight out of twelve division commanders 
approving we can't reject it and adopt another without assuming 


ADOPT." Stanton replied that while agreeing with the President's 
conclusion, he dissented from his arithmetic, because the generals 
who voted against the proposed plan were independent of the influ- 
ence of the commanding general, while the others owed their promo- 
tions to him and were especially under his influence, voting his wish 
as one man rather than their own judgments; so that, instead of 
eight to four, there was really but one to four. Lincoln admitted the 
truth of this remark, but, to avoid friction and responsibility, de- 
cided to approve the plan endorsed eight to four by the council of 
generals, and on March 8 orders were issued bidding McClellan 
make the proposed move "as early as the 18th of March inst." 

On the following day the public learned that the Confederate 
general had voluntarily abandoned his entrenchments at Manassas 
Junction, in front of Washington, a position he had been holding 
unmolested, "as a matter of cheek," with a small force of poorly 
fed troops — including wooden guns and stuiifed soldiers ! McClel- 
lan, who had all along claimed the enemy's force to be superior in 
numbers to his own,f now moved out for the purpose, he said, of 
"getting rid of superfluous baggage" and "giving the troops some 
experience on the march!" 

*In "Peninsular Campaigns," General J. C. Barnard, McClellan's chief 
of engineers," says of the council: "To my great surprise, eight of the 
twelve officers present voted, off-hand, for the measure, without discussion; 
nor was any argument on my part available to secure a reconsideration." 

tStanton, learning that McClellan's claim that the Confederate forces 
between Washington and Richmond numbered 240,000 men could not be 
true, requested General B. F. Butler to prepare a statement, on the best 
obtainable evidence, of the enemy's strength about Washington and else- 
where, and submit it for use. Butler's report showed that the entire army 
menacing Washington could not exceed 70,000. Years afterward, when 
the War Department gave out the records for both armies, it was seen 
that even General Butler had over-estimated the Confederate force. Mc- 
Clellan had, "present for duty," 185,420 "of^cers and men," and 534 pieces of 
artillery— much of it the finest the world afforded. The Confederate force 
for the same moment, "present for duty," was 47,617, with perhaps 50 or 60 
pieces of artillery. 


But even this quest for "experience" was not made without pro- 
tests. On the 9th he telegraphed to Stanton that he wished to sus- 
pend a portion of the President's order. To this Stanton instantly 
replied: "I think it is the duty of every officer to obey the Presi- 
dent's orders, and I cannot see why you should not obey them in the 
present instance. I must therefore decline to suspend them." 

But McClellan insisted and on the 10th Stanton yielded, saying: 


I do not understand the President's order as restraining you 
from any military movement by division or otherwise that circumstances 
in your judgment may render expedient, and I certainly do not wish 
to delay or change any movements whatever that you have made or desire 
to make. I only wish to avoid giving my sanction to the suspension of 
a policy which the President has ordered to be pursued. But if you think 
that the terms of the order as it stands would operate to retard or in any 
way restrain movements that circumstances require to be made before 
any corps are formed, I will assume the responsibility of suspending the 
order for that purpose and authorize you to make any movement by 
division or otherwise, according to your own judgment. 

My desire is that you should exercise every power that you think 
present circumstances require to be exercised, without delay; but I want 
you and me not to seem desirous of opposing an order by the President 
without necessity. I say, therefore, move just as you think best now and 
let the other matter stand until it can be accomplished without impeding 

In reply he received a telegram of thanks which also announced 
that "the troops are in motion." But it all meant nothing, and 
at the next cabinet meeting Stanton declared that "something 
must be done to relieve the other armies and the country of the 
Potomac incubus." So insistent was he that Lincoln (on March 11) 
issued an order stating that "Major-General McClellan, having per- 
sonally taken the field at the head of the Army of the Potomac, is 
relieved of the command of the other military Departments, re- 
taining the command of the Department of the Potomac." The or- 
der also required all Department commanders to report direct to the 
Secretary of War. 

McClellan was greatly exasperated by this order, and his par- 
tisans instituted a series of venomous attacks on Stanton which 
have not ceased to this day. Blaine, in "Twenty Years of Con- 
gress," declared the order was an "egregious blunder," and other 
equally famous military experts have denounced Stanton for "as- 
suming" and "usurping" the functions of general-in-chief, as if the 

Gen. John Cochrane 


Secretary of War were, and ought to be, nothing more than a clerk 
to the general commanding. 

But Stanton neither "usurped" nor "assumed" the functions of 
general-in-chief. McClellan was acknowledged to be a failure; the 
nation was disgusted and clamorous ; Chase was complaining that 
he could "grind out no more money" without the backing of military 
success or activity; there was bitter jealousy among the leading 
generals, not one of whom was conspicuous above his fellows, and 
something had to be done. One secretary favored promoting this 
and another that general. Stanton suggested, "Let a leader de- 
velop." Lincoln said : "Let us make the Secretary of War general- 
in-chief," and every member of the cabinet instantly voted in favor 
of the happy and lawful proposition. 

Stanton accepted the responsibility and showed both his wis- 
dom and forbearance by advising against appointing a new gen- 
eral-in-chief, for a time, in order to "avoid offending or humiliating 
McClellan" and to hold the place open for him should he "win a 
victory, or so conduct the army as to be entitled to reinstatement." 
Thus, while McClellan's partisans were denouncing and be-lying 
Stanton, Stanton was trying to save their idol — should he prove 
worth saving. 


In order to have the remainder of the day free from interrupt- 
tions, Stanton arranged to give an hour every morning to the 
"public." This morning hour is remembered more vividly by the 
masses than any other feature of his incumbency, and showed quite 
as well as any his enormous capacity for adaptation, organization, 
comprehension, and despatch. No preparation for taking care of 
the heterogeneous business that was to be considered could be 
made, for no one knew what was coming. 

Standing on a small platform near a high desk at one end of 
the large reception room, with a messenger to deliver papers, he 
separated the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares, with 
a decisiveness and rapidity that was marvelous. Contractors, 
claimants, sick, wounded, cranks, chaplains, crooks, kickers, spies, 
politicians, constitution-savers, office-seekers, Cyprians after passes, 
sorrowing widows, broken-hearted fathers, convicts, deserters, dis- 
missed or suspended officers — everybody came cocked and primed 
for a bout with the Secretary — and got it. 

"Of all his duties, those of the reception room were the most 
annoying and distasteful," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, his con- 
fidential clerk. "Here he brought upon himself much censure and 
enmity for his abruptness, his swift decisions, and his firmness. 
But with him the success of his armies overshadowed everything 
else ; that was all he was working for." Major Johnson continues : 

At the time President Lincoln was dissatisfied with the failure of Meade 
to pursue and fight Lee, as he should have done after the battle of Gettys- 
burg, an incident occurred which sent a thrill of astonishment through the 
building. A Western man with a note from the President proposed that the 
Secretary consider replacing the Army of the Potomac with the Army of 
the West. Stanton blurted out that if the President made that recommen- 
dation, he was a fool,* which settled the Westerner — he took his papers 
and left. 

♦When, an hour later, the Westerner repeated Stanton's remark to 


"Sunset" Cox was the only person who ever kept his hat on in the re- 
ception room, and I always thought it was because he was afraid to encoun- 
ter Mr. Stanton except under preparation for immediate retreat. 

While Senator Trumbull of Chicago was presenting some matter to the 
Secretary, the two became greatly excited and by some accidental move- 
ment Mr. Stanton knocked the ink-stand off the high table and spilled the 
black fluid all about. On returning to his room he at once sent a note of 
apology, but the senator never forgave him, and, at the impeachment trial 
of President Johnson, got even by turning against his party and his State 
and voting for Johnson, which, of course, was voting against Mr. Stanton. 

Often when Mr. Stanton came from the reception room, he washed his 
face and perfumed his flowing whiskers with cologne in order to get rid of 
the remains of some offensive breath he had encountered. 

On one occasion he came from the reception room with his nose bleed- 
ing and sent me to bring Surgeon-General Barnes. He was somewhat 
alarmed at the free flow of blood, but General Barnes soon stopped it by 
cracked ice, and he went on as before. 

At one particular reception Stanton espied a soldier-boy, 
ragged, dirty, and evidently in ill health, leaning against the wall 
as if too feeble to stand alone. Regardless of the officers crowded 
about him, he called the boy to him saying: "Well, my lad, what 
can I do for you?" 

The soldier, without a word, drew a letter and handed it to 
the Secretary. Hastily reading it, Stanton cried : *T would rather 
be worthy of this letter than have the highest commission in the 
army of the United States," and then read aloud the communi- 
cation, which was an appeal from General George H. Thomas in 
behalf of the bearer and survivor of the men sent South by Gen- 
eral O. M. Mitchell to burn the bridges and destroy the railway 
communications of the Confederates before the battle of Shiloh. 
The youth's companions had been caught and hanged and he es- 
caped more dead than alive. Reaching the Union lines, nearly a 
year elapsed before he was able to leave the hospital, and Gen- 
eral Thomas urged that he be rewarded. Again turning to the boy 
Stanton asked, with considerable emotion in his voice, what he 

"Let me go home." 

"You shall go home, and when you return to the army it shall 
be as an officer. This is the sort of devotion that is needed in the 

Lincoln, he received this characteristic reply: "If Mr. Stanton said the 
President is a fool, it must be so, for the Secretary is generally right." 


In the spring of 1862, when the Fourth Wisconsin embarked 
from Newport News to join General Butler at New Orleans, Cor- 
poral Nathan Cole was left behind to die, as was supposed, of 
typhoid pneumonia. A telegram to that efifect was sent to his 
father, Charles D. Cole, at Sheboygan Falls. The aged and stricken 
parent took the first train for Washington, not even waiting to 
change his suit. Although at that time all passes had been for- 
bidden except to persons engaged in the military service, he joined 
the throng gathered to see the Secretary of War, for there was no 
alternative but to apply for a pass. Weary, depressed, and almost 
hopeless, especially when he observed Stanton tossing off his vis- 
itors with the energy of a cyclone, he waited his turn. As it was 
about to come, a stylishly dressed contractor pushed him aside and 
stepped into his place in the advancing line. 

"Very well, sir ; go ahead, if your business is more important 
than mine," said Mr. Cole, who was small and lame. 

"Stand aside, there!" shouted Stanton to the contractor, and 
then, changing as quick as a flash to kindness and consideration, 
leaned over, extending his hand, and inquired of the white-haired 
father: "What can I do for you, sir?" 

In a few trembling words the old gentleman made known the 
object of his long journey and began to search his pockets ner- 
vously for letters from Senator T. O. Howe and Governor Edward 
Salomon. Before he could find them Stanton grasped a large enve- 
lope and wrote the following, which he held forth while attending 
to the succeeding visitor: "Pass Charles D. Cole, a citizen of Wis- 
consin, to Newport News, Virginia, to visit his son, a soldier sick 
in the hospital there. All officers and soldiers of the United States 
will show Mr. Cole due courtesy and attention." 

The stylish but hoggish contractor, as a penalty for his un- 
just conduct, was not permitted to state his business until Stanton 
had attended to every other person in the assemblage. 

Young Cole recovered and in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, his home, 
no one can speak with impunity against Secretary Stanton. 

During 1862, William Stanton Buchanan went to Washington 
to procure a contract for his townsman James Phillips of Wheeling, 
to cast ball and shell. "I went," he relates, "to the Secretary's 
house. In the evening, when Mr. Stanton came home, I thought I 
would further my business by mentioning a few points in regard 
to it. He replied: 'William, no talk on business here. I'll hear 

Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, C. S. A. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart. C. S. A. 

Gen. John B. Magruder, C. S. A. Gen. D. H. Hill. C. S. A 

Confederate "Quaker" (Wooden) Guns. 


you at the Department to-morrow.' I prepared a statement of my 
application and went to the War Department and was received 
among the hundreds as though I had not known him intimately 
and fondly from childhood nor passed the previous night in his 
house. In his public duties he knew no friends or foes except the 
friends and foes of his country." 

A remarkable feature of these morning receptions was that 
no matter how numerous the callers, Stanton managed to dis- 
pose of every case within the hour. On entering the room, while 
passing to his desk, he made a quick calculation of the number 
present and the amount of time he could give to each, and gauged 
his work accordingly. Occasionally Lincoln dropped in to see 
"Old Mars," as he called Stanton, "quell disturbances" — a feature 
of no previous or succeeding administration, and one which kept 
Stanton more closely in touch with the masses than any other that 
he could have adopted. 


Having prevented the forward movement fixed for Washing- 
ton's birthday and secured a reconstruction of the President's plan 
as well as a modification of the order of March 8, McClellan still 
refused to obey the command to go ahead under his own plan. On 
the 13th he assembled a "council of generals" at Fairfax Court-house 
to "consider the military situation." The handful of Confederates 
at Manassas having quietly withdrawn, so that he had no "vastly 
superior forces" to cow him into inaction, the council formulated 
a new plan based on a movement from Old Point Comfort, a naval 
display against the forts on the York River, "neutralizing" the 
Merrimac* and leaving force enough about Washington to "give a 
feeling of entire security for its safety." When this had been agreed 
upon, McClellan telegraphed to Stanton that McDowell was en 
route to submit it for approval. Stanton instantly responded : 
"Whatever plan has been agreed upon, proceed at once to execute 
it without waiting an hour for my approval." 

When McDowell arrived with the details, Stanton advised Lin- 
coln that the new plan or nothing would have to be accepted and 
telegraphed to McClellan that it was approved, but that in choosing 
a new base of operations he must "leave Washington entirely se- 
cure" and a sufficiently large force at Manassas so the "enemy shall 
not repossess himself of that position and line of communication." 
The closing paragraph declared: 

3. Move the remainder of the force down the Potomac, choosing a new 
base at Fortress Monroe, or anywhere between here and there; or, at all 
events move such remainder of the army in pursuit of the enemy by some 

*The Merrimac blockaded the James River after McClellan was ordered 
to advance upon Richmond, thus increasing the difficulties of carrying out 
his own plan and the dangers attendant upon making Fortress Monroe his 


Still there were objections and complaints. McClellan wanted 
to know what would become of General Wool's authority at 
Fortress Monroe in case he himself should ever reach that place 
and make it his base of operations. Stanton telegraphed at 5:20 
that day, the 13th : 

General Wool will be relieved from command whenever you desire to 
assume it and if you determine to make Fortress Monroe your base of 
operations you shall have control of the forces under General Burnside. 
All the forces and means of the Government will be at your disposal. 

An hour later Stanton telegraphed again : 

General Patrick was nominated upon your request. I took the nomina- 
tion myself to the President and saw him sign it and I will go to the 
Senate to-morrow to urge confirmation. Any others you may designate 
will receive like attention. Nothing you can ask of me or of this Depart- 
ment to aid you in any particular will be spared. 

The next morning before 8 o'clock Stanton ordered General 
Wool, who ranked McClellan, to submit to an inferior commander, 
and before 9 o'clock had informed McClellan that the order would 
be complied with. 

It is possible to go on almost indefinitely with evidence from 
official and private records to prove that Stanton did everything 
within his power to satisfy and strengthen McClellan whenever it 
was supposed there was to be a forward movement, remaining in 
his office night and day to answer telegrams and grant requests, 

"Of course I had an inside view of many things that passed 
between Stanton and McClellan and the other generals," says L. A. 
Somers of Cleveland, Ohio, an expert telegraph operator stationed 
in the War Department. "Stanton put forth his energies to help 
McClellan, to satisfy him with men and materials. His constant 
questions were — and many of them I sent and received with my 
own hands — 'What can I do for you?' 'What do you need?' " 

What were the results? Fiddling, dawdling, telegraphing, 
complaining, protesting, advising, wanting, objecting. Up to this 
time, too, the fortifications around Richmond had been little bet- 
ter than works of straw, so that at any moment when Lee was 
absent, the Confederate capital could have been taken without 
firing a gun.* 

♦Before the Committee on the Conduct of the War, General Gilman 
Marston and others testified that an attempt to take Richmond after the 


On April 3, Stanton suspended recruiting for new regiments, 
closed the stations and ordered the officers in charge to the front. 
On page 9 of McClellan's "Own Story," this is described as "a 
blunder unparalleled in military history, as well as a crime." On 
page 258, he says it "proved either a desire for failure of the cam- 
paign or entire incompetence." 

McClellan also condemned a subsequent draft based upon en- 
rolment, saying it was an "unnecessary disturbance of all the re- 
lations of society and the business interests of the country" — a 
statement so absurd as to carry in its own words its own refutation. 
He said further as to the draft: "The numbers called out were ab- 
surdly large." Yet in a previous official "memorandum" to Lin- 
coln he recommended a "display of overwhelming strength," and in 
nearly every letter, telegram, and conversation after Stanton be- 
came secretary of war he called for "more troops," "reinforce- 
ments," "one hundred thousand more men," "all you can spare," 
"more recruits." He denounced Stanton for enrolling while he him- 
self never ceased calling for more men! 

On April 3 McClellan announced from Fortress Monroe that he 
expected to move on the following day against Yorktown, where, 
he said, a great force of Confederates — about twenty-five thousand 
men — was entrenched, and asked that the Parrot guns mounted for 
the defense of Washington be forwarded for his use. This request 
was a grievous blow to Stanton, who had information that York- 
town was held by a mere handful of men compared to the number 
McClellan had reported. It indicated that McClellan wanted to strip 
Washington of its means of defense in order to increase his already 
overwhelming force for taking a place that a few hours later took 
itself, the Confederates, happy to escape, skedaddling in glee ! 
The records disclose that there were between five thousand and six 
thousand Confederates at Yorktown ; McClellan's force numbered 
over one hundred thousand. General J. B. Magruder said after- 

evacuation of Yorktown would have been successful, the Confederates then 
controlling less than ten thousand men, while McClellan was in command 
of a very large army. General Pope testified that McClellan's army could 
have taken Richmond and marched to New Orleans. General Butler made 
a similar statement. McClellan's own commanders swore that he might 
have taken Richmond five times during his brief peninsular campaign. 
D. H. Hill, the Confederate general, says that "during Lee's absence Rich- 
mond was at the mercy of McClellan. He could have captured the city 
with but little loss of life." 


wards that he held Yorktown by "keeping up a hell of a clatter." 

At Stanton's request Lincoln replied: "Your order for Parrot 
guns from Washington alarms us chiefly because it argues indefinite 
procrastination. Is anything to be done?" 

On the same day Generals Hitchcock and Wadsworth reported 
to Stanton that McClellan had disobeyed the order to keep Wash- 
ington protected. Although he had more men than he could use, 
he was calling for more and on the 6th Stanton telegraphed that 
Sumner's full corps was on the way to join him and that Franklin's 
division was advancing by way of Manassas, ending thus: "Tele- 
graph frequently, and all the power of the Government shall be 
used to sustain you as occasion may require." On the 9th, Stanton 
having learned the precise strength of the Army of the Potomac, 
Lincoln wrote to McClellan among other things : "There is a 
curious mystery about the number of troops now with you." He 
quoted McClellan's reports to Stanton and asked him how the dis- 
crepancy of twenty-three thousand men therein disclosed could be 
accounted for. Also : 

I suppose the whole force which has gone forward for you has reached 
you by this time. If so, I think it is the precise time for you to strike a 
blow. * * * Once more let me tell you, it is indispensable that 
you should strike a blow. * * * 'Yhe country will not fail to 
note, is now noting, that the present hesitation is but the story of Manassas 
repeated. I beg to assure you that I have never written to you in greater 
kindness of feeling than now, or with a fuller purpose to sustain you as far 
as, in my most anxious judgment, I can. But you must act. 

Two days later, although the Yorktown enemy had vanished, 
McClellan asked Stanton for more men, but said he would be sat- 
isfied if given Franklin's division. Instantly Stanton sent word 
that Franklin's division had been "ordered to march to Alexandria 
and embark for Fortress Monroe," and received McClellan's thanks 
and his assurance that victory was "sure now." 

Among his reasons for not obeying the orders to advance, Mc- 
Clellan prints in his "Own Story" a letter from F. P. Blair, of April 
12, advising him not to heed the cry of "on to Richmond," but to 
take his own time. On April 7, 1862, his close personal friend. Gen- 
eral W. B. Franklin, wrote warning McClellan against the danger of 
obeying suggestions from anti-war and anti-administration politi- 
cians instead of orders from Washington, adding: "Stanton says all 
the opponents of the administration center around you." McClellan 


proved that Stanton's allegation was true and consequently, of 
course, that he himself was hostile to the administration, by subse- 
quently publishing in his "Own Story" portions of his correspond- 
ence with those very "opponents." As a further justification for his 
rebellious course, he recites immediately after Lincoln's letter of 
April 9, the insulting telegram sent by Pelissier to the French 
Emperor in reply to an order to renew the attack in the Crimea: "I 
will not renew the attack until ready ; if you wish it done, come and 
do it yourself." He seemed to regard his mutiny against the Presi- 
dent and the Secretary of War as a glorious and heroic achievement. 

On April 11 he wrote to his wife not to "worry about" the 
"wretches" and "hounds" at Washington; that he had received a 
letter from Francis B. Cutting of New York, advising him not to 
permit the "treacherous hounds" at Washington to "drive" him 
"from his path" and had answered it, and that he would be glad 
when he had finished "this confounded affair," complaining of his 
"predicament," with "rebels on one side and abolitionists and other 
scoundrels on the other." 

Stanton, too, wanted "this confounded affair" finished, for he 
telegraphed to McClellan on the 16th : "Let us have Yorktown with 
Magruder and his gang before May 1 and the job will be done." 
And then again on the 27th: "I am rejoiced to learn that your 
operations are progressing rapidly and with so much spirit and 
success, and congratulate you and the officers and soldiers en- 
gaged upon the brilliant affair mentioned • in your telegram. Re- 
peating the assurance that everything in the power of this De- 
partment is at your service, I hope soon to congratulate you upon 
a splendid victory that shall be the finishing stroke of the war." 

Evidently Stanton knew that the insurgents were "playing 
horse" with McClellan, for he telegraphed to McDowell on the 28th 
that "the enemy will amuse McClellan at Yorktown and make a sud- 
den dash with their main force against you or Banks." 

On May 17 he telegraphed to McClellan : 

In order to increase the strength of the attack on Richmond at the 
earliest moment, General McDowell has been ordered to march upon that 
city by the shortest route. 

The specific task assigned to his command [40,000 men] has been to 
provide against any danger to the capital of the nation. At your earnest 
request he is sent forward to cooperate in the reduction of Richmond but 
charged in attempting to do this not to uncover the city of Washington 


and you will give no order either before or after your junction which can 
put him out of position to cover this city. 

Notwithstanding McCIellan's incessant appeal for more troops, 
more troops was not what he wanted, after all. He wanted au- 
thority, not soldiers, and he did not seem to care how the battle 
went, for he answered : 

The Department lines should not be allowed to interfere with me; but 
General McDowell, and all other troops sent me, should be placed com- 
pletely at my disposal. * * * If / cannot fully control all his 
troops, / want none of them, but would prefer to fight the battle with what / 
have and let others be responsible for results. 



Benjamin F. Butler says in "General Butler in New Orleans," 
that in his initial interview with Stanton in January, 1862, he was 
asked why he could not capture New Orleans. It was the first 
time the suggestion had been made, and, he said, it "thrilled" him. 
Elaborating later, he gives this interesting information concerning 
that first interview: 

Mr. Stanton had some decided notions about the conduct of the war. 
He mentioned, I should say, a dozen things he said must be done — in 
fact, that he intended to do. I distinctly remember five, all of which 
appealed to my judgment of approval: (a) Capture New Orleans; (b) 
blockade the James River and cork up the Confederate "Government"; (c) 
cut off the stream of supplies from Baltimore to the Confederacy through 
the Shenandoah Valley; (d) confiscate slaves of rebellious masters; (e) 
compel McClellan to besiege Richmond until it surrendered. 

The first of these I helped to accomplish without anything further 
than a suggestion; but the others Mr. Stanton was compelled to do himself. 

In February Stanton inquired of Secretary Welles whether 
the navy could not invest Norfolk, especially as the navy-yard there 
ought to be rescued, and was met with the suggestion that General 
Burnside be ordered to assault the city by land — in other words, 
"Do it yourself, Mr. Stanton." 

In the meantime, the Merrimac, a remarkable craft, nearly 
submerged, heavily armed and roofed with bars of railroad iron, 
issued forth and on March 8 and 9 sunk the Federal frigates Con- 
gress and Cumberland, frightened the navy, and threw New York, 
Washington, and the seacoast cities into hysterics. 

On the very night that she completed this destruction, Stanton 
telegraphed to H. B. Renwick at New York, to call together se- 
cretly Abram S. Hewitt, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and others like 
them to sit as a committee to devise a way of sinking the new 
insurgent monster. While this was being done he inquired into the 
condition of his own forts and forces in that vicinity. Finding 


Fortress Monroe provisioned for only sixty days and with but 
two guns that could injure the Merrimac — one of 12-inch and the 
other of 15-inch bore but not mounted — he ordered provisions and 
munitions for six months to be thrown in at once. 

"It would be a wonderful reproach to your Department," ex- 
claimed Stanton to the chief of ordnance (General Ripley), "if this 
big gun should not be mounted when needed. The civilized world 
would execrate the officer who did not have this gun in fighting 
order ready for an emergency. I would not answer for the neck 
of the man loaded with such a responsibility." 

On March 13, he advised Secretary Welles of the navy, that he 
could not embark the army for Norfolk previous to such a blockade 
of the Craney Island channel as would bottle up the Merrimac. The 
result of his communication was stated next day by himself to his 
bureau chiefs : 

I addressed a letter to the Secretary of the Navy informing him that 
our hulk and coal vessels were at his disposal to blockade the Elizabeth 
River [in virhich the Merrimac was anchored], but my letter does not seem 
to have been received in good temper. I have a reply stating that when 
the army shall clear Sewall's Point of the enemy, the navy will be happy to 
do its duty in sinking vessels. This I understand means that the navy 
intends to make no attempt to blockade the channel while the batteries are 
there. ****** "pjje President sent for me. I 
found Mr. Fox [assistant secretary of the navy] present. We had a con- 
ference on the subject, but it led to no result. The President relies on 
Mr. Fox, who seems to think that he has in his possession the entire naval 
knowledge of the world. Under these circumstances my duty seems to 
be to give this serious matter active attention at once. 

On the following day he telegraphed to Cornelius Vanderbilt 
to name a price for bottling up the Merrimac or sinking her if she 
should attempt to steam out, and to come at once to Washington. 
Vanderbilt offered the swift and powerful sidewheel steamer Van- 
derbilt to Stanton, fully equipped, without price, and on March 20 
received the following, his offer having been accepted : 

Confiding in your patriotic motives and purposes as well as your skill, 
judgment, and energy, full discretion and authority are conferred upon you 
to arm, equip, manage, use, navigate, and employ the steamer Vanderbilt 
with such commander and crew as you may deem fit. Instructions will be 
given to the quartermaster-general to furnish you with supplies and to treat 
and recognize the Vanderbilt as in the Government service and under the 
special orders of this Department. 


When the craft reached Fortress Monroe, General Wool turned 
her over to Commander Goldsborough of the navy, whereupon 
Stanton instructed him by telegraph to repossess her and use her 
"exclusively under the command of the War Department." 

Assistant-Secretary Watson arrived at Fortress Monroe a few 
hours later and, finding Goldsborough without the jealousy that 
poisoned Washington and eager to avail himself of any means 
within reach to destroy the Merrimac, he returned the Vanderhilt to 
him, with Stanton's approval. 

Feeling certain that the Vanderbilt, although she herself might 
be destroyed by the impact, was able to run down and sink the 
Merrimac, and Fortress Monroe having been reinforced, Stanton in- 
stucted Wool to have his army ready for a sudden movement. He 
then invited Secretary Chase and the President to accompany him — ■ 
the former because he wanted to use the revenue cutter Miami for 
the trip down the Potomac and the Chesapeake, and the latter be- 
cause (not having invited the Secretary of the Navy) he wanted 
present, on arriving at the field of operations, full authority to take 
personal command of both army and navy, which the President as 
commander-in-chief of both, could and did give to him. 

The party, accompanied by General Egbert L. Viele, left Wash- 
ington at dusk on May 5, 1862. Unfavorable weather compelled 
the pilot to tie up during a portion of the night, so Fortress Monroe 
was not reached until the following evening. Stanton sent at once 
for General Wool and, after a brief conference, although it was 10 
o'clock and the squadron flagship was some miles away, set out to 
consult Commander Goldsborough. 

The following morning the party, accompanied by Wool and 
Goldsborough, visited the several ships in the Roads for the pur- 
pose of learning their condition for battle, and at noon — having 
found them "as fierce as one-eyed terriers for a fight" — Stanton 
decided to have the engagement open on the part of the navy at 
daybreak the next morning. 

Lincoln more than willingly approved, and promptly as agreed 
three armed vessels, led by the Galena under John Rodgers, steamed 
up the James River Thursday morning and engaged the shore bat- 
teries, while the Monitor and Stevens cannonaded the works on 
Sewall's Point. At 8 A. M. Stanton telegraphed with delight to 
Assistant-Secretary Watson : "Tobacco, oil, and cotton are being 

Gov. John A. Andrew. 

Boston Corbett. 


carted out of Norfolk. Things are moving now." Again at 2 o'clock 
he telegraphed as follows: 

The President is at this moment at Fort Wool witnessing the gunboats 
shelling the rebel batteries on Sewall's Point. At the same time heavy 
firing up the James River indicates that Rodgers and Morris are fighting 
the Jamestown and Yorktown. The boom of heavy cannonading strikes the 
ear every minute. The Sawyer gun in Fort Wool has silenced one battery 
on Sewall's Point. The James rifle does good work. 

It was a beautiful sight to see the boats moving on Sewall's Point and 
one after another open fire and blaze away every minute.* 

The troops will be ready to move in an hour. The ships engaged are 
the Dacotah, Savannah, San Jacinto, Monitor, and Stevens. The Merrimac is 
expected out every minute. A rebel tug came over this morning and said 
the Merrimac was at Norfolk when they left. 

Soon after, the terror-inciting Merrimac came out, but seeing 
the Vanderbilt draw away for the purpose of getting up great speed 
to run her down, skulked under shelter, and was blown up by her 
commander at daylight on the following morning, producing what 
Stanton described as "one of the most beautiful sights ever beheld." 

A suitable landing having been found, Stanton gave orders for 
the troops to forward march and at midnight was able to tele- 
graph to Watson : 

Norfolk and Portsmouth are ours; also the navy-yard. General Wool 
having completed the landing of his forces at 9 this morning on Wil- 
loughby's Point, marched with 5,000 men. Secretary Chase accompanied. 
At 5 this evening our forces within a short distance of Norfolk were met 
by a delegation of citizens and the city was formally surrendered. Our 
troops then marched in; we have possession; General Vielef is in command 
as military governor. 

After Stanton had administered the oath of allegiance to hun- 
dreds of Virginians, the party returned to Washington Monday 
morning. Thus, in one hundred and twenty hours from the time 

*"As soon as Stanton heard firing in every direction where there were 
rebel forts or forces, his delight knew no bounds," says General Viele. 

f'Before leaving for Norfolk, Secretary Stanton said to me: 'I am 
going down to take Norfolk. I want you to go along prepared to act as 
military governor after the capture.' I went; he took Norfolk and every- 
thing else in that vicinity, and I was made military governor that very 
night. That shows what kind of a man Mr. Stanton was," says General 


fixed for leaving Washington (twenty-six of which were required 
for the journey to Fortress Monroe) Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport 
News, and the surrounding points were captured, never to be recov- 
ered by the insurgents ; the Merrimac was driven to suicide ; the 
United States navy-yard was recovered, and the James River com- 
pletely blockaded, all according to Stanton's plans and under his 
personal direction. 

When Commander Goldsborough made his report to the Navy 
Department he stated that he had acted on "orders from the 
Honorable Edwin M. Stanton," and accompanied the document 
by Lincoln's written statement that he had "verbally approved the 
movement in advance." 

When Secretary Welles wished to occupy the Norfolk navy- 
yard, his own property, he was compelled to apply to Stanton for 
pcrmissionn to do so. Secretary Chase wrote to Horace Greeley : 

I cut this slip from the Republican this morning about Mr. Stanton. It 
is less than justice to him. Not only did he urge the order to move on 
the 22d of February, but he proposed to the President and myself the 
trip to Fortress Monroe; he proposed and urged the sending of Rodgers up 
the river, the landing of the troops by General Wool, and the march upon 
Norfolk. The next day witnessed the march, a panic, the capture of Nor- 
folk, and the following morning the blowing up of the Merrimac. Nothing 
of all this, I verily believe, would have occurred but for Mr. Stanton's great 
energy of thought and action.* 

In execution and results, Stanton's Norfolk expedition was 
undeniably one of the signal triumphs of the war. It is the only 
instance in American history where the secretary of war assumed 
personal command of both army and navy and actively directed 
the combined operations of both in battle. 

"If Mr. Stanton had been a military man," says General T. M. 
Vincent, "the brilliant and decisive character of his Norfolk expedi- 
tion would have filled the world with his fame." 

*For years his partisans have claimed that the operations of Mc- 
Clellan caused the surrender of Norfolk. McClellan himself did not think 
so, for he sent an early telegram of congratulation to Stanton — the only 
one of this character he ever was known to send to the Secretary. 


Stanton hoped that going in person to capture Norfolk and 
Lincoln's ceaseless prodding would compel McCIellan to move, 
but he was mistaken. The press continued to ridicule the situation 
by the daily use of the words in exaggerated head-lines, "All Quiet 
on the Potomac." McClellan's partisans the while poured broad- 
sides of abuse upon Stanton, declaring that he was responsible for 
the repeated failures of the campaign in Virginia. 

These attacks on Stanton were so persistent and vicious that 
his old friend and beloved tutor in Kenyon College, the Reverend 
Heman Dyer of New York, wrote a letter in reference to them, 
which drew forth this remarkable communication: 

Washington, D. C, May 18, 1863. 
My Dear Friend: 

Yours of the 10th is welcome as an evidence of the continued regard 
of one whose esteem I have always been anxious to possess. 

I have been very well aware of the calumnies busily circulated against 
me in New York and elsewhere respecting my relations to General Mc- 
CIellan, but am compelled from public considerations to withhold the 
proofs that would stamp the falsity of the accusations and the base mo- 
tives of the accusers, who belong to two classes: 

First — Plunderers who have been driven from the Department when 
they were gorging millions; 

Second — Scheming politicians, whose designs are endangered by an 
earnest, resolute, and uncompromising prosecution of this war as a war 
against rebels and traitors. 

A brief statement of facts of official record, which I can make to you 
confidentially, will suffice to satisfy yourself that your confidence in me has 
not been misplaced. 

When I entered the cabinet I was and had been for months the 
sincere and devoted friend of General McCIellan, and to support him and, 
so far as I might, aid and assist him in bringng the war to a close, was 
a chief inducement for me to sacrifice my personal happiness to a sense 
of public duty. I had studied him earnestly with an anxious desire to dis- 
cover the military and patriotic virtue that might save the country, and. 


if in any degree disappointed, I had hoped on, and waited for time to 

I went into the cabinet about the 20th of January. On the 27th the 
President made his Order No. 1, requiring the Army of the Potomac to 
move. It is not necessary, nor perhaps proper, to state all the causes 
which led to that order, but it is enough to know that the Government was 
on the verge of bankruptcy, and at the rate of expenditure the armies 
must move or the Government perish. The 22d of February was the day 
fixed for movement, and when it arrived there was no more sign of move- 
ment on the Potomac than there had been for three months before. Many, 
very many earnest conversations I had held with General McClellan, to 
impress him with the absolute necessity of active operations or that the 
Government would fail because of foreign intervention and enormous 

Between the 22d of February and the 8th of March the President 
had again interfered, and the movement on Winchester and to clear the 
blockade of the Potomac was promised, commenced, and abandoned. The 
circumstances cannot yet be revealed. 

On the 8th of March the President again interfered, ordered the Army 
of the Potomac to be organized into army corps, and that operations 
should commence. 

Two lines of operations were opened — one moving directly on the 
enemy at Manassas and forcing him back to Richmond, beating and 
destroying him by superior force, and all the time keeping the capital 
secure by lying between it and the enemy. This was the plan favored by 
the President. The other plan was to transfer the troops by water to some 
point on the lower Chesapeake, and thence advance to Richmond. This 
was General McClellan's plan.* The President yielded his own views, 
although they were supported by some of the best military men in the 
country, and consented that the General should pursue his own plans. 
But by a written order he imposed a special condition that the army 
should not be removed without leaving a sufficient force in and around 
Washington to make the capital perfectly secure against all danger, and 
the force required should be determined by the judgment of all the com- 
manders of the army corps. 

In order to enable General McClellan to devote his whole energy to 
the movement of his own army (which was quite enough to tax the ability 
of the ablest commander in the world) he was relieved from the charge 
of the other military Departments, it being supposed that the respective 
commanders were competent to direct the operations in their own Depart- 

To enable McClellan to transport his force, every means and power of 
the Government were placed at his disposal and unsparingly used. When 
a large part of his force had been transferred to Fortress Monroe, and the 
whole of it about to go in a few days, information was given to me by 
various persons that there was great reason to fear that no adequate force 

*Which left Washington open to capture; and Lee could well afford 
to pawn Richmond for Washington. 

Gen. Francis P. B 

Gen. D. C. McCalli 


had been left to defend the capital in case of sudden attack; that the enemy 
might detach a large force and seize it at a time when it would riot be 
possible for General McClellan to render any assistance. Serious alarm 
was expressed by many persons and many warnings given me which I 
could not neglect. I ordered a report of the force left to defend Wash- 
ington. It v/as reported by the commander to be less than 20,000 raw 
recruits, with not a single organized brigade. A dash like that made 
a short time before at Winchester would at any time take the capital 
of the nation. The report of the force left to defend Washington and 
the order of the President were referred to Major-General Hitchcock and 
Adjutant-General Thomas, to report — 

First — Whether the President's orders had been complied with; 

Second — Whether the force left to defend the city of Washington was 

They reported in the negative on both points. These reports were 
submitted to the President, who also consulted General Totten, General 
Taylor, General Meigs, and General Ripley. They agreed in the opinion 
that the capital was not safe. The President then by written order 
directed me to retain one of the army corps for the defense of Washington 
— either Sumner's or McDowell's. As a part of Sumner's corps had already 
embarked, I directed McDowell to remain with his command. And the 
order was approved by the President. 

Down to this period there has never been a shadow of difference be- 
tween General McClellan and myself. It is true that I thought his plan 
of operations objectionable, as the most expensive, the most hazardous, and 
most protracted that could have been chosen; but I was not a military 
man, and while he was in command I would not interfere with his plan, 
and gave him every aid to execute it. But when the case had assumed the 
form it had done by his disregard of the President's orders and by 
leaving the capital exposed to seizure by the enemy, I was bound to act, 
even if I had not been so required by the specific written order of the 

Will any man question that such was my duty? 

When this order was communicated to General McClellan, it of course 
provoked his wrath, and the wrath of his friends was directed upon me 
because I was the agent of its execution. 

If the force had gone forward as he had designed, I believe that 
Washington would this day be in the hands of the rebels! 

Down to this point, moreover, there had never been the slightest 
difference between the President and myself. But the eiatreaties of General 
McClellan induced the President to modify his orders to the extent that 
Franklin's division (being part of McDowell's corps, that had been retained) 
was detached and sent forward by boat to McClellan. This was against 
my judgment, because I thought the whole force of McDowell should be 
kept together and sent forward by land on the shortest route to Richmond, 
thus aiding McClellan, and at the same time covering and protecting Wash- 
ington by keeping between it and the enemy. In this opinion Major-Gen- 
eral Hitchcock, General Meigs, and Adjutant-General Thomas agreed; but 


the President was so anxious that General McClellan should have no 
cause of complaint, that he ordered the force to be sent by water, although 
that route was then threatened by the Merrimac. I yielded my opinion to 
the President's orders; but between him and me there has never been the 
slightest shadow since I entered the cabinet, and except the retention of the 
force under McDowell by the President's orders for the reason men- 
tioned, General McClellan has never made a request nor expressed a wish 
that has not been promptly complied with, if in the power of the Govern- 
ment. To me personally he has repeatedly expressed his confidence and his 
thanks in the despatches sent me. 

Now, one word as to the political motives: What motive can I have 
to thwart General McClellan? I am not now, never have been, and never 
will be a candidate for any office. I hold my present post at the request 
of the President, who knew me personally, but to whom I had not spoken 
from the 4th of March, 1861, until the day he handed me my commission. 

I knew that everything I cherish and hold dear would be sacrificed by 
accepting office. But I thought I might help to save the country, and for 
that I was willing to perish. If I wanted to be a politician or a candidate 
for any office, would I stand between the Treasury and the robbers who 
are howling around me? Would I provoke and stand up against the whole 
newspaper gang in the country, of every part, who, to sell news, would 
imperil a battle? I was never taken for a fool, but there could be no 
greater madness than for a man to encounter what I do for anything less 
than motives that overleap time and look forward to eternity. 

I believe that God Almighty founded this Government, and for my act in 
the effort to maintain it I expect to stand before Him in judgment. 

You will pardon this long explanation which has been made to no one 
else. It is due to you, who was my friend when I was a poor boy at school, 
and had no claim upon your confidence and kindness. It cannot be made 
public for obvious reasons. General McClellan is at the head of our chief 
army. He must have every confidence and support, and I am willing that 
the whole world should revile me rather than to diminish one grain of the 
strength needed to conquer the rebels. In a struggle like this, justice or 
credit to individuals is but dust in the balance. 

Desiring no office of honor, and anxious only for the support and quiet 
of my home, I sufifer no inconvenience beyond that which arises from the 
trouble and anxiety suffered by worthy friends like yourself, who are 
naturally disturbed by the clamors and calumnies of those whose interests 
or feelings are hostile to me. 

The official records will at the proper time fully prove: 
First — That I have employed the whole power of the Government un- 
sparingly to support General McClellan's operations; 

Second —That I have not interfered with nor thwarted them in any par- 

Third —That the force retained from this expedition was not needed 
and could not have been employed by him; that it was retained by express 
orders of the President upon military investigation and upon the best mili- 
tary advice in the country; that its retention was required to save the capi- 


tal from the danger to which it was exposed by disregard of the President's 
positive order of the 6th of March; 

Fourth — That between the President and myself there never has been 
the slightest shadow of difference upon any point, save the detachment of 
Franklin's force, and that was a point of no significance, but in which I 
was sustained by Generals Hitchcock, Meigs, Thomas, and Ripley, while 
the President yielded only to an anxious desire to avoid complaint, declar- 
ing at the same time his belief that the force was not needed by General 

You will, of course, regard this explanation as being in the strictest 
confidence, designed only for your information upon matters where you 
have expressed concern for me. 

The confidence of yourself and men like you is full equivalent for 
all the railing that has been or can be expended against me; and in the 
magnitude of the cause all merely individual questions are swallowed up. 

I shall always rejoice to hear from you, and am as ever, 

Truly yours, 
The Reverend H. Dyer. Edwin M. Stanton. 

This splendid letter was penned at midnight. At the same 
moment — at midnight of May 18 — in his tent in Virginia, Mc- 
Clellan was also writing — writing to his wife about Stanton and 
Lincoln, saying: "Those hounds at Washington are after me 
again !" 

So they were! The "hounds at Washington" were trying to 
force him to get up and fight in defense of his country, and he 
wouldn't do it! 



Stanton's long and important professional connection with 
transportation enabled him to judge tmderstandingly the importance 
of the Mississippi and its tributaries as commercial and military 
highways. Finding them practically in the hands of the insurgents 
when he became secretary, and being unable to secure from the 
Navy Department any satisfactory plan of opening them, he sent 
a note to Charles Ellet, in March, 1862, saying: 

If this Department had several swift, strong boats on the Western 
rivers, commanded by energetic fighting men, I could clear the rebels 
out of those waters and recover the Mississippi to the use of commerce 
and our armies. The navy seems to be helpless and I am compelled to 
execute a plan of my own to avert the increasing dangers there. Can 
you not secretly fit out a fleet of swift boats at several points on the 
Ohio and descend on the rebels unexpectedly and destroy them? Please 
call at my office at once. 

Charles Ellet, personally well known to Stanton, was an en- 
gineer of great renown and ability who had built the Fairmont, 
Niagara, and Wheeling bridges and invented steam rams for naval 
warfare. He called and discussed the matter with Stanton and his 
bureau chiefs, who instantly adopted Ellet's plan to buy or impress 
river craft of high speed at Pittsburg, Cincinnati, New Albany, etc., 
and transform them into rams to be used in surprising and sinking 
the insurgent fleet during high water. 

On March 26, Stanton telegraphed to the boards of trade of 
Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and New Albany to appoint each a committee 
of three men expert in boat building and steamboating to serve 
for thirty days in providing an adequate defense against insurgent 
gunboats, of which a fleet of ten or more had already assembled 
at Island No. 10, in the Mississippi. 

"My object," concluded the telegram, "is to bring the energetic, 
patriotic spirit and enlightened practical judgment of your city to 


aid the Government in a matter of great moment when hours must 
count and dollars must not be squandered." 

Ellet proceeded with haste to the river cities, in each of which 
Stanton appointed a quartermaster of known character and abiUty 
with full authority to purchase and pay for whatever was wanted. 
At Cincinnati the patriots set exorbitant values upon their boats, 
whereupon Stanton telegraphed to Mayor Butler: 

The Department will submit to no speculative prices. Enough good 
boats can be had at Pittsburg for a fair price. If not, I will authorize the 
quartermaster to seize such boats as may be needed, leaving the parties 
to seek remuneration from Congress. For those purchased the price 
will be paid immediately, but I want no contracts concluded without 
being approved by this Department. * * * Hours count and 
every hour should bring the Rebellion nearer its end. 

He instructed Mayor Burnett of New Albany not to wait for the 
arrival of Ellet, saying: "I want Pittsburg, Cincinnati, and New 
Albany skill, economy, enterprise, and patriotism to compete against 
each other. Shall give each an equal fair test and choose between 
them for future work. Time is a great element in choice." 

In this way he aroused local pride and patriotism and, in an 
incredibly short time, created a fleet of gunboats under Ellet's 
supervision with solid prows of wood and iron, capable of steaming 
twenty miles per hour with the current, thirty-eight of them carry- 
ing 13-inch coast mortars with necessary hospital boats, tenders, 
store ships, etc. When it was ready, he placed Ellet (assisted by 
his brother Alfred) in command, instructing him that "the expedi- 
tion must move upon the enemy with the concurrence of the naval 
commander on the Mississippi, for there must be no conflicting 
authorities in the prosecution of the war." 

Reaching Memphis, Ellet applied to Commander Davis of the 
naval fleet (which had aleady lost two gunboats by the Confederate 
rams) for advice and cooperation. After an exasperating wait of 
several days, both cooperation and advice were refused. Davis 
acted, it was said, upon instructions from superiors at Washington.* 
The situation is disclosed by the following official telegram from 
Stanton to General Halleck, at Corinth, on June 5: 

*Ellet had his ram project declined by the czar of Russia and rejected 
repeatedly by Secretary Welles of the navy, as not original nor effective. 
Hence Stanton had espoused an enterprise which the navy had pronounced 
impractical and worthless, and was in disrepute with that Department. 


Colonel EUet, commander of the ram fleet at Fort Pillow, informs me 
that he has been there a considerable time and has made repeated applica- 
tions to Captain Davis, commander of the gunboats, for leave to attack 
the enemy's fleet, but has been uniformly refused. Captain Davis not 
only refuses to join Mr. Ellet or give him the protection of a single gunboat, 
but also refuses to allow him to attack on his own hook or allow any force 
to volunteer with him. 

I regret the President will not place the fleet under your command. 
Ellet reports that the strength of the rebel batteries is greatly over- 
rated and declares his intention to go on without the aid or approval of the 

Next day, with Stanton's consent, Ellet made the attack and 
destroyed, captured, or drove away the entire insurgent fleet. He 
was fatally wounded but continued to fight his ram, shouting to his 
brother: "Stick to your post, Alfred, and sink them all!" The 
next day Stanton telegraphed to him : 

News of your glorious achievement reached us last night. Our joy 
is dampened only by your injury. I have seen Mrs. Ellet. She bears up 
bravely. I have provided passes and transportation and she will go to you 
at once with your daughter.* 

The record is one not excelled in military history. On March 
28, Stanton had formulated his plan for a river navy and despatched 

*Says Mary Virginia Ellet Cabell of Norwood, Virginia, daughter of 
Colonel Ellet: "The great War Secretary came in person to our home on 
Georgetown Heights, D. C, to announce to my mother my father's 
glorious achievement. I have heard that this powerful War Minister was 
harsh and unfeeling; but I can never forget the tenderness of his manner 
on that occasion. He came flushed with pleasure to bring to a hero's 
family the first news of his success. The agony of alarm with which 
his announcement was received brought tears to his eyes. When my 
mother sank under the terror of the first forebodings that my father's injury 
was not so light as represented, he beckoned me from the room and, taking 
both my hands in his, said soothingly, 'My dear young lady, do not be 
alarmed. Your father's wound is slight — his achievement famous, unequaled. 
Cheer your mother. I will send all telegrams as they arrive, to her,' and 
he kept his word. His carriage dashed back that same evening, and next 
morning we were provided with everything required to take my mother 
and myself to my father, on his flagship before Memphis. Thanks to Mr. 
Stanton's kindness and promptness, we reached my father before he sank 
and while he was conscious that the blow he had struck to the enemies of his 
country must cost him his life. * * * The rebel flag, taken 
by my brother Charles from the Memphis post-oflice during the close 
of the battle, is still in my possession." 

Gen. Jubai, A. Karlv, C. S. A. qe^. t. J. (" Stonewall") 

Jackson, C. S.A. 

Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. C. S. A. ^j^^^ Nathan B. Forrest. C. S. A 

Gen. Joseph \V. Chalmers, C. S. A. 

VV. W. BoYCE, M. C. 


Ellet to Pittsburg to create it. Thirty-five days later the necessary 
craft had been secured and rebuilt by Ellet into rams and gunboats ; 
eight days later they were manned by the nerviest men in the West, 
specially enlisted for "extra hazardous" service ; fourteen days later 
they were anchored one thousand miles from where they were built 
to ask help from the navy to attack the enemy ; six days later, at 
dusk, without that help, they had destroyed, captured, or driven 
away every insurgent craft ! 

Before the battle closed Colonel Ellet's nineteen-year-old son 
(Charles R.) with a small squad from the fleet, entered Memphis 
and replaced the Confederate flag on the Federal post-office with the 
Stars and Stripes. 

And thus was Memphis secured, the Mississippi cleared to 
Vicksburg, the insurgent cause greatly crippled, and Stanton set to 
dancing with glee in his dingy office at Washington! 

Owing to the displeasure of Secretary Welles* and the death of 
Ellet, who was a man of fiery courage and extraordinary energy and 
ability, Stanton's river navy was transferred by the act of July, 1862, 
to the Navy Department. Its previous feat under Stanton was de- 
scribed by General Sherman as one of the most remarkable of the 
war. After the transfer Stanton at once chartered and armed "pa- 
trol boats" for the Western rivers — especially the Ohio — which per- 
formed effective service ; and no one succeeded in having them 
transferred from his control, although there were several sharp at- 
tempts in that direction. 

*Secretary Welles, in his various postbellum writings, omitted no oppor- 
tunity to criticize Stanton. As, without consulting him, Stanton took per- 
sonal command of a portion of Mr. Welles's navy for the purpose of cap- 
turing Norfolk and blockading "the James River, and created a new War 
Department navy of his own, which, without the aid of the regular navy 
officers present, almost instantly cleared the upper Mississippi of insurgent 
gunboats, the Secretary of the Navy naturally felt very sorely aggrieved. 
He interpreted both proceedings as severe reflections upon himself 
and his Department. Besides, Stanton paid no attention to Mr. Welles in 
cabinet meetings or elsewhere. He never visited the Navy Office and Mr. 
Welles never called at the War Office. Hence, if, after Stanton's death, Mr. 
Welles thought he could "get even" by attacking the Secretary of War in 
history, it was human nature for him to do so, and he did it. 



Stanton continued to forward troops and munitions to McClel- 
lan ; Lincoln to send telegrams and letters. The latter declared on 
May 28: "You [McClellan] must either attack Richmond or give 
up the job and come to Washington." Four days later (June 2) 
Stanton telegraphed : 

Your telegram received. We greatly rejoice at your success. * * 
* * You have received, of course, the order made yesterday in regard 
to Fortress Monroe. The object vv^as to place at your command the dis- 
posable force of that Department. * * * ^jj interest now centers 
on your operations, and full confidence is entertained of your brilliant and 
glorious success. 

On June 7 he telegraphed that four regiments from Baltimore 
and one from Washington had been sent ; that three more would fol- 
low that day and that McCall would move as soon as transportation 

At last, on June 26, the Confederates attacked McClellan's right 
at Mechanicsville unsuccessfully; but on the following day, at 
Gaine's Mill, they renewed the attack with great slaughter. On 
the succeeding day (the 28th) he ordered the entire army to retreat, 
telegraphing to Stanton that he was "not responsible" for the result 
and closing: "If I save the army now, I tell you plainly that I owe 
no thanks to you or any person in Washington. You have done your 
best to sacrifice this army." 

"Had such language been used to a superior in any other coun- 
try," says General E. D. Townsend, "and it was directed to the 
President as well as to the Secretary, the offender would have been 
cashiered, and, in most countries, shot." 

But the words quoted were omitted* from the copy of the tele- 

*Neither the full nor the mutilated telegram is on file in the War 
Department. The original, written by McClellan, is possessed by the 
McClellan family, and the correct cipher copy of it as received at Wash- 
ington, is in the hands of General T. T. Eckert of New York. 


gram that was furnished to Stanton and by him in turn handed to 
Lincoln. Thus, no one can say what would have occurred had the 
message been delivered as indited. McClellan appreciated the 
gravity of his oflfense, for in a letter to his wife concerning it he said : 
"Of course they will never forgive me for that. I knew it when I 
wrote it. His [Stanton's] reply may be to avail himself of the first 
opportunity to cut my head oflf." 

Having no knowledge of the offense that had been committed, 
Stanton telegraphed : 

We have every confidence in your ability to drive Jackson back, and 
shall lose no time in aiding you. With every wish for your success and 
good fortune (and I have never had any other feeling) I am, etc. 

He ordered General Halleck to send twenty-five thousand men 
from Corinth, Tennessee, and General Hunter to forward "all he 
could spare — ten thousand at least" — from Hilton Head, North 
Carolina. Halleck, however, was unable to detach so many men, 
but ample supplies and help, supposed to be needed though in fact 
they were not, were sent forward with a rush. 

The world has never known how the mutilation of McClellan's 
unsoldierly telegram occurred. The full story is now told for the 
first time by Major A. E. H. Johnson, Stanton's confidential clerk : 

Colonel E. S. Sanford was supervisor and censor of telegraphic mes- 
sages. He said to Assistant-Secretary Eckert that the charge against the 
Secretary contained in the telegram of June 28 was false — a charge of 
treason; that the defeat of McClellan's army was due to his own unfitness 
to command; that his whole course showed that he was afraid of Lee and 
every telegram he sent was proof of it; that while it was doubtful whether 
the censor had authority to suppress a telegram from General McClellan, 
and especially one to the Secretary of War, yet this was such an out- 
rageous, such an infamous untruth, that he, as telegraphic censor, could 
not allow himself to be used to hand it to the Secretary. The telegram, 
minus the offensive words, was then recopied, and the copy handed to Stan- 
ton and taken by him to the President. Neither knew of its mutilation, 
and both acted upon it in perfect ignorance of the terrible charge it had 
previously contained against them. 

I never knew Colonel Sanford in person to bring a telegram into the 
Secretary's room till that morning, nor did he often come to the War 
Department, having no office in the building. Major Eckert had sent for 
him to know what to do with this telegram, which was evidently intended 
by McClellan to reach the public as a means of shifting the cause of his 
defeat from his own to other shoulders. The suppression of it destroyed the 
purpose of the sender, as he himself dared not publish it, and it was 


not heard of until brought forth as a campaign document* in the presi- 
dential canvass of 1864, when its author was snowed under. 

The telegram was in cipher and the first copy of it was destroyed; but 
the true message is in the cipher book now in possession of General Eckert. 
The multilated copy, published in the Rebellion Records, was taken from 
the collection made to be delivered to Stanton at the end of the war; it 
may also be found on p. 302, Vol. I., Report of the Committee on the 
Conduct of the War. 

McClellan's "Own Story" published in 1887, charges Stanton with 
mutilating the telegram of June 28, which charge the world may now see 
is as false as the one expurgated from McClellan's message by Colonel 

Of this telegram, Nicolay and Hay, President Lincoln's biographers, 

"Early on the morning of the 28th of June, he sent the Secretary of 
War his memorable telegram, which was a mere blind cry of despair and 
insubordination. The kind and patient words with which President Lin- 
coln replied to this unsoldierly and unmanly petulance, and the vigor put 
forth by the War Department to mitigate the danger with all available 
supplies and reinforcements, have been related." 

As Lincoln never saw the "unsoldierly and petulant" part of the tele- 
gram, his "kind and patient" words were not in answer to it; and Stan- 
ton's vigorous action was not based on McClellan's charge of treason, but 
on that part of the telegram which said: "Not a man in reserve, and 
I shall be glad to cover my retreat and save the material and personnel 
of the army." 

Thus Colonel Sanford's expurgation saved McClellan from dis- 
missal, court-martial, and perhaps something immeasurably worse ; 
but it has led easy-going writers into producing some remarkable 

♦Congress ordered 5,000 copies of McClellan's final report to be printed 
and it was circulated as a Democratic campaign document. 



Not knowing that the false and offending words of the message 
described in the previous chapter had been suppressed, and receiving 
no reproof for sending them, McClellan made bold to despatch his 
father-in-law and chief of staff (General R. B. Marcy) to say to 
Stanton in person that unless certain things were done and he were 
given more perfect independence, he should have to surrender his 
army to Lee ! Stanton, having a dying child at his country home, 
was greatly distressed when Marcy presented this startling ultima- 
tum. Major A. E. H. Johnson, who was present at the interview, 
says : 

Mr. Stanton was profoundly stirred, perhaps I might say frightened. 
He was already staggering under the demands of the country for military 
activity on the peninsula, Secretary Chase's appeal for decisive army 
movements as a basis for national credit, McClellan's inexplicable droning, 
and the critical condition of his child, yet he instantly measured the awful 
disaster that would follow the delivery of McClellan's army to Lee — the loss 
of the capital and perhaps the nation. He talked very earnestly to General 
Marcy, but before the interview was concluded he was called away by a 
message saying that his baby was dying. The promise that General Marcy 
expected to exact, was, therefore, I think, never put in [written] form. 

There is corroborative testimony in the official records of the 
War Department and among McClellan's papers of the truth of 
Major Johnson's relation, beginning with this telegram, which an- 
nounced the required promotions : 

July 5, 1862; 2:30 P. M. 
Major-General G. B. McClellan: 

I have nominated for promotion General E. V. Sumner as brevet- 
major-general of the regular service and major-general of volunteers; 
Generals Heintzelman, Keyes, and Porter as brevet-brigadiers in the reg- 
ular service and major-generals of volunteers. 

The gallantry of every officer and- man in your noble army shall 
be suitably acknowledged. 


General Marcy is here and will take you cheering news. 
Be sure that you will have the support of this Department and the 
Government as cordially and faithfully as was ever rendered by man to 
man; and, if we shall live to see each other face to face, you will be 
satisfied that you have never had from me anything but the most con- 
fiding integrity. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 
Secretary of War. 

Before the "cheering news" thus promised had been fully com- 
municated to General Marcy, Stanton was called peremptorily to 
the bedside of his child. In his extreme grief, and while his carriage 
was waiting at the door, he hastily penned a note to General Marcy 
and another to General McClellan, the latter as follows: 

Washington, D. C, July 5, 1862. 
My Dear General: 

I have talked to General Marcy and meant to have written to you by 
him, but am called to the country where Mrs. Stanton is with her children, 
to see one of them die.* 

I can therefore only say, my dear General, in this brief moment, that 
there is no cause in my heart or conduct for the cloud which wicked men 
have raised between us for their own base and selfish purposes. 

No man ever had a truer friend than I have been to you and shall 
continue to be. You are seldom absent from my thoughts, and I am 
ready to make any sacrifice to aid you. Time allows me to say no more 
than that I pray Almighty God to deliver you and your army from all 
pejil and lead you on to victory. 

Yours truly, 

Edwin M. Stanton. 

The threats of General Marcy must have been made substanti- 
ally as alleged by Major Johnson, or the throbbing sentences of 
Stanton's communication to McClellan would have been then and 
would be now, meaningless. 

To this letter McClellan replied on the 8th, that "of all the men 
in the nation," Stanton was his "choice" for secretary of war; that 
it was not too late for them, working together, as Stanton had said 
in the beginning, "to save this country," and that "it is with feelings 
of great relief that I now say to you that I shall at once resume on 
my part the same cordial confidence which once characterized our inter- 

♦The child, James H. Stanton, was buried on the 10th. 


If "cordial confidence" had not been broken off by McClellan, 
would there have been any "cordial confidence" for him to "at once 


While watching his dying child, Stanton requested Lincoln to 
go in person to cheer McClellan in camp ; learn his wants and 
grievances ; dissuade him from surrendering* and discover whether 
he could not be induced to proceed against the enemy and thus 
stop the public clamor against him. Lincoln arrived on the 8th, 
spent the night with McClellan and returned next day ; but Mc- 
Clellan wrote to his wife that day that he did not think "his 
excellency profited much" by the visit ; that is, McClellan conducted 
himself in such a rebellious manner that the journey of the Presi- 
dent, his anxious commander-in-chief, was fruitless ! 

On the 10th — the day Stanton was burying his child — Mc- 
Clellan wrote to his wife : "I do not know what paltry trick this 
administration will play next," on the 13th, that he had "no faith in 
the administration," at 1 :30 P. M. of the same day, that he 
"hated to think" that "humanity could sink so low" as he found it 
in Stanton, but nevertheless that "his opinion was just as he had 
told her," concluding thus : "He [Stanton] has deceived me once ; 
he can not and never will again. Are you satisfied now, lady mine? 
I ever will hereafter trust your judgment about men. Your 
woman's tact and your pure heart make you a better judge than my 
dull apprehension. I remember what you thought of Stanton when 
you first saw him. I thought you were wrong. I now know you 
were right. Enough of the creature !" 

Did he "at once resume" his "cordial confidence" with Stan- 
ton? Was he sincere when, five days before, he wrote to Stanton 
that he would do so? Is it not wonderful that Stanton was able to 
pierce the maze of falsehood and mystery which was flung about him 
from so many directions and such high places? Is it now difficult to 
see why the Army of the Potomac won no decisive battles? Is 
there, in the face of the testimony of McClellan's owii friends and 
private letters, any language of execration, condemnation, and con- 
tempt that is strong enough adequately to characterize his conduct 
toward Stanton? 

♦General Lew Wallace says that at this time he called upon Lincoln, 
who told him that he was just going to the front to try to dissuade Mc- 
Clellan from surrendering. 


Being required to report, McClellan stated that thirty-eight 
thousand, two hundred and fifty able-bodied men were absent from 
his command on furloughs. This fact coming up in the cabinet 
meeting of July 22, Stanton "very earnestly" suggested that "Mc- 
Clellan be compelled to modify his course or resign; otherwise the 
country will and ought to hold the administration responsible for 
the failure of the peninsular campaign. A bankrupt treasury is bad 
enough, but if we bankrupt national patriotism, the obloquy of all 
time will not be a sufficient condemnation of our course." 

Chase added that "the change proposed by the Secretary of 
War is a financial necessity; there are now ten million dollars of 
unpaid requisitions out and the amount is increasing." Lincoln 
refused to act, however, and Stanton returned to his altogether dis- 
couraging task. 

Telegrams from Lee to Stuart, intercepted on July 17, disclosed 
that the Confederate purpose was to mass a great force in front of 
Pope and suddenly crush him before the Army of the Potomac, 
which McClellan was mobilizing about Fortress Monroe, could 
come to the rescue, and then rush on and capture Washington. 
McClellan was advised of this plan. He could have gone to Pope, 
who, knowing what Lee proposed, retreated behind the Rappahan- 
nock; or he could have advanced upon Richmond and compelled 
Lee to return to save the Confederate capital. He did neither, and 
refused steadily to obey all commands to do either. 

The first telegram along this line, on July 30, ordered him to 
send off his sick, for whom quarters had been prepared, in order 
to be ready to move his army. He did not obey, so another tele- 
gram was sent August 2 saying the President wished a reply. On 
the 3d he replied : "Until I am informed what is to be done with 
this army I cannot act understandingly for the good of the ser- 
vice." He was answered : "It was expected that you would send 
off your sick as directed without waiting, to know what were or 


what would be the intentions of the Government." 

From day to day he was ordered to make haste and on the 9th 
was informed that the enemy was massing forces in front of Pope 
and Burnside with the intention of crushing them and marching on 
to the Potomac: "You must send reinforcements instantly to 
Aquia Creek. Considering the amount of transportation at your 
disposal, your delay is not satisfactory." Next day General-in-Chief 
Halleck telegraphed that "the enemy is fighting Pope to-day. 
There must be no further delay in your movements. That which 
has already occurred was entirely unexpected and must be satis- 
factorily explained." 

At the very moment these numerous and urgent orders from 
Washington were being disobeyed, one of McClellan's own generals 
and partisans was asking permission to strike the blow so desper- 
ately demanded by Stanton — the blow which would have saved Pope 
and turned the tide of the war. It was sent through McClellan's 
father-in-law (General Marcy) by General Alfred Pleasanton: 

Haxall's Landing, August 11, 1862. 
General R. B. Marcy, Chief-of-Staff, 

General: — Your note of this date received. There are moments when 
the most decided action is necessary to save us from great disasters. I 
think such a moment has arrived. 

The enemy before us is weak. A crushing blow by this army at this 
time would be invaluable to disconcert the troops of the enemy to the 
north of us. That blow can be made in forty-eight hours. Two corps 
would do it, and be in position to go wherever else they may be ordered by 
that time. 

From all I can learn there are not 36,000 men between this and Rich- 
mond, nor do I believe that they can get more before we can whip them. 
I have guides ready, and know the roads sufficiently well to accomplish 
anything the General wants. 

I write this as a friend. I shall willingly carry out the General's 
orders, be they what they may; but I think he has an opportunity at this 
time few men ever attain. 

Destroy this, and whatever I have said shall not be repeated by mQ 
Very truly yours, 

A. Pleasanton. 

The foregoing, not used by the historians but, through an 
error, left on file in the War Department, clearly establishes Mc- 
Clellan's persistent and disastrous insubordination, as well as what 
his own friends thought of it at that moment. 

On the 21st he was advised: "Pope and Burnside are hard 
pushed and require aid as rapidly as you can send it. Come yourself 


as soon as you can." On the 24tli he arrived at Aquia Creek, with 
orders to proceed to Alexandria and "take entire charge of sending 
out troops," and reached that city by boat on the evening of the 

On the following morning Herman Haupt, Stanton's director 
of Military Railways, went in a rowboat to search for McClellan 
among the fleet of transports. On finding him, surrounded by his 
stafiF and writing materials, Haupt lost no time in disclosing that 
Pope was out of forage and rations, Lee tearing at his rear, com- 
munication cut off, and relief imperatively demanded. He then 
rowed McClellan ashore and explained how, if protection were 
granted for the trains, relief could be promptly sent, but was 
told in reply that the undertaking was "too risky" — as if war 
could be prosecuted without risk ! Refusing to provide protection, 
approve Haupt's plan, or make any suggestion of his own, Mc- 
Clellan called for a drink of brandy, mounted a horse and rode 
away ! 

At that moment there were thirty thousand veteran troops in 
camp near Alexandria, within sixteen miles of the spot where Pope's 
handful of weary men was being slaughtered ; but, as his "Own 
Story" (page 529) shows, McClellan was so busy preparing a 
journal and writing to his wife that he could not cooperate with 
Haupt to save Pope from annihilation and the capital from peril. 
He began writing in the early "A. M.," and at 10:30 A. M., after 
Haupt had ceased begging him for help, complained to his wife 
that he had "been again interrupted by telegrams requiring replies." 

That a general of the army was not permitted to devote his 
mornings, noons, and evenings to writing copiously to his wife 
without being "interrupted by telegrams requiring replies," and 
that he was not allowed to make military history with a pen instead 
of a sword without "interruption" at 10:30 in the morning, is un- 
questionably the blackest shame in American history ! 

Haupt, exasperated at the unmistakable disposition to let Pope 
perish, determined to send succor at any hazard. Having pre- 
pared a relief train, he asked McClellan, who had been rediscovered, 
for a convoy of two hundred sharp-shooters. At 1 o'clock in 
the morning of the 28th, the request being ungranted, Haupt 
secured a lantern and walked four miles to General Hancock's camp 
and, routing that superb officer out of bed, promptly secured the 

i^ i' 


required escort and at 4 o'clock that morning began despatching 
the relief trains that were so sorely needed. 

Pope's army, after the pluckiest resistance human creatures 
could offer, was overwhelmed, though not until the supply of green 
apples and crackers and of ammunition was exhausted and the 
shattered band worn out. The first part of McClellan's prophecy to 
his wife that "Pope will be badly thrashed within ten days and 
then they will be glad to turn over the redemption of affairs to me," 
thanks to his own recalcitrant conduct, came very near being ful- 
filled, but the desperate fighting of Pope's men held Lee's fiery 
army in check and saved Washington. 

Yet if Lee had known the real situation — that McClellan was 
inactive and rejoicing at Alexandria and that Pope had neither 
bread, bullets, nor reinforcements — he would have swept on to 
Washington and set up the Confederate government in the Federal 
capital ! 



Although not personally participating in the great battle of 
telegrams* between Washington and Alexandria, Stanton was 
acting on its disclosures. On August 28, he asked Halleck for an 
official report upon the disobedience of "the general commanding 
the Army of the Potomac." While this record was being compiled 
and while Pope was being pounded back by Lee's desperate assaults 
for want of the support which was near at hand, Stanton himself 
was etching into history a terrible indictment. 

On appearing at the War Ofitice in the morning of the 30th, 
he drew the subjoined protest, written in his own hand, in large out- 
line on both sides of the sheet, with several erasures and inter- 
lineations, from an inner pocket of his coat. A fair copy was made 
by Assistant-Secretary Watson to be signed by the members of 
the cabinet and submitted to Lincoln, as follows: 

Washington City, August 30th, 1862. 
Mr. President: "" 

The undersigned feel compelled by a profound sense of duty to the 
Government and people of the United States and to yourself as your con- 
stitutional advisers, respectfully to recommend the immediate removal of 
George B. McClellan from the command of any army in the United States. 
We are constrained to urge this by the conviction that after a sad and 
humiliating trial of twelve months and by the frightful and useless sacrifice 
of the lives of many thousands of brave men and the waste of many 
millions of national means, he has proved to be incompetent for any 
important military command. And also because by recent disobedience to 
superior orders and inactivity he has twice imperiled the army commanded 
by General Pope, and while he continues to command will daily hazard the 
fate of our armies and our national existence, exhibiting no sign of a dis- 
position or capacity to restore the national honor that has been so deeply 
tarnished in the eyes of the world by his military failures. 

*McClellan received ten telegrams on one subject — ordering him to 
send General Franklin to the aid of Pope— and disobeyed all of them. 


We are unwilling to be accessory to the waste of national resources, 
the protraction of the war, the destruction of our armies, and the imperiling 
of the Union which we believe must result from the continuance of George 
B. McClellan in command, and seek therefore by his prompt removal to 
afford an opportunity to capable officers, under God's providence, to protect 
our national existence. 

Stanton and Chase having signed, the latter took the document 
for further circulation among the cabinet ofificers. Secretary Smith 
signed readily, but Attorney-General Bates, objecting to the form 
in which the matter was presented, prepared (adopting the senti- 
ments and conclusion of Stanton's paper) a shorter and more 
quiet petition, which was also signed by Stanton, Chase, Smith, 
and Bates. The line left for Welles is blank, although he had,. 
Chase says, promised to affix his signature, and probably would 
have done so if a sudden change in the course of events had not 

The partly-signed protest, together with Halleck's report of 
even date showing that McClellan had been in a state of insub- 
ordination for a month, were read by Lincoln on the high desk 
in Stanton's private office. He hung over the documents almost a 
full day, toward the close of which he wrote and several times 
re-wrote a paper which has never been made public. He did not 
think it wise technically and in writing to relieve McClellan, but 
that simply to leave him at Alexandria without anything to do, with 
no men or orders, there to gnaw a file, would prove the more 
judicious course. 

Although being terribly punished. Pope was nevertheless ex- 
pected to win, and it was Stanton's purpose to relieve Mc- 
Clellan and announce the fact to the country at the moment of vic- 

On this point Major A. E. H. Johnson, who witnessed all of the 
conferences, says : 

The President thought that to give out Mr. Stanton's original indict- 
ment, which recited exact and terrible reasons for relieving McClellan, 
would set ten thousand McClellanite tongues to wagging and an hundred 
thousand copperhead teeth to biting, and he had enough of those things 
already. So, after consulting a long, long time with Mr. Stanton, he con- 
cluded to say to the people merely, if he said anything: "You come to 
me and I will tell you all about McClellan" — a plan to which, of course, 
Mr. Stanton felt compelled to assent, although against his judgment. 


McClellan arrived at Washington on the morning of September 

1, to see Halleck "alone." In the meantime Colonel J. C. Kelton, 
who had been despatched to learn Pope's condition and predict 
future movements of the enemy, had returned and reported the 
Federal rout complete, the surrounding country filled w^ith 
stragglers, and Lee's way to Washington practically unobstructed. 
This depressing information having been communicated to Lincoln 
by Stanton, the former, before sunrise of the morning of September 

2, visited McClellan at his house in company with Halleck and, 
instead of dismissing him as had been agreed, expressed great fear 
that Washington was lost and told him to take command of local 
and incoming forces and to do the best he could to protect the 

Although in his "Own Story," written over twenty years 
later, McClellan alleges that he disagreed with Lincoln and Halleck 
as to the peril of the capital, he wrote to his wife from Alexandria 
at 11 :30 P. M. of August 31 : "I do not regard Washington as safe 
against the rebels. If I can slip quietly over there I will send your 
silver ofif." Knowing that his failure to support Pope meant the 
probable loss of the capital, he proposed to "slip" over secretly, 
contrary to orders, and send the family silver away, so that it 
should not fall, with Lincoln and Stanton and the other "hounds," 
into the hands of Lee! He was anxious to save his tableware but 
not the capital and head officers of the nation ! 

Stanton appeared in the War Office much earlier than usual 
that morning, deeply absorbed and, going straight to the high desk 
at which Lincoln and himself had stood in profound and painful 
earnestness for two days and nights, gathered up the McClellan 
protests and accompanying papers and suppressed them, and, 
Halleck's report excepted, not one of them ever saw the light until 
all of the chief actors in that tragic drama had passed from earth. 

Pope was whipped, not victorious as had been hoped, and 
Stanton had learned that Lincoln, instead of dismissing McClellan, 
had, before daylight that morning, personally ordered him to take 
command of the forces about Washington.* 

Thus himself and the remainder of the cabinet except Blair 

*When the formal order was ready to issue, Stanton eliminated the 
usual words, "by order of the Secretary of War," and forbade their use 
therein, and "by order of General Halleck" was substituted by Adjutant- 
General Townsend. 


(Seward having straddled) had been overridden. Lincoln appre- 
ciated the situation, for he did not visit Stanton again in the War 
Office for a month, Major Johnson says, and not as freely as 
formerly until shortly before he issued the order retiring Mc- 
Clellan permanently from the military service. 

An instructive picture of that eventful day is thus given by 
General M. C. Meigs: 

The contrast between Lincoln and Stanton at the time Pope was 
defeated and Lee appeared before Washington, was very great. The 
latter was steaming about with vigor, under great pressure, issuing volley 
after volley of orders to be executed "at once" for the safety of the city, 
for at first we all thought the capital was really going to be captured. 
Lincoln, on the other hand, dropped into my room on his weary way 
to see Stanton, drew himself way down into a big chair and, with a 
mingled groan and sigh, exclaimed: "Chase says we can't raise any more 
money; Pope is licked and McClellan has the diarrhoea. What shall 
I do? The bottom is out of the tub, the bottom is out of the tub!" 

I told the President to meet his generals with Stanton, fix the bottom 
back in the tub, rally the army, and order another advance at once. This 
seemed to brace him up a little and he went on to the War Department; 
but for the moment he was completely discouraged and downhearted. 
Stanton, on the other hand, was more full of power and vehement energy 
than ever. 

And thus another picture by Adjutant-General E. D. Town- 

Secretary Stanton was thoroughly frightened when news came that 
Pope had been routed. I do not mean that he personally was scared, but 
he feared Washington would be captured by the Confederates. 

There was a large and valuable depot of supplies and stores in the city 
for distribution to the Army of the Potomac. Mr. Stanton, determined 
that it should not fall into the hands of the enemy, ordered General 
Maynadier to prepare instantly to move everything out; and, if there 
should be anything he could not move, to destroy it before leaving. A 
few hours later more reassuring news came in and the order was recalled. 

Several times I saw Mr. Stanton when he was very much in earnest, 
but at this time his anger and indignation with McClellan for refusing to 
cooperate with Pope were immeasurable.* 

The situation, in view of the general lack of definite informa- 
tion, was indeed critical. Confederate scouts had arranged to have 
their army cross the Potomac near Georgetown, D. C. ; the Treas- 

♦Confidential Clerk A. E. H. Johnson says: "I believe that if Mc- 
Clellan had been present when the news of Pope's defeat came in, the 
Secretary would have assaulted him. I never saw him so enraged." 


ury was barricaded with hundreds of barrels of cement ; Stanton had 
gathered the more important papers of his office into such bundles 
as could be carried by men on foot or horseback, should the 
occasion arise ; thousands of persons had fled the city ; panic-stricken 
fragments of the broken Federal armies were pouring in, and con- 
fusion and incoherency were universal. 

Later in the day (September 2) the cabinet met. The entire 
subject was gone over, during which Lincoln said that while Mc- 
Clellan's conduct had been "atrocious" and "shocking," he saw 
no course open except the one he had pursued. 

In some form or other every member of the cabinet except 
Stanton has given an account of that spirited meeting. For months 
he had exerted himself in vain to prevent the perilous situation that 
was then upon the nation, and could well afford to let others do the 

That Stanton was not misinformed concerning McClellan's an- 
gry hostility to Pope, his attitude of rebellion against Lincoln, Hal- 
leck, and himself, and his general determination to disobey all or- 
ders* from Washington, is amply proven by the shreds of corre- 
spondence with Mrs. McClellan and W. H. Aspinwall which were 
permitted to see light in McClellan's "Own Story": 

July 17 — You do not feel more bitterly towards those people [at 
Washington] than I do. * * * I fear they have done all that 
cowardice and folly can do to ruin our poor country. * * ♦ j^ 

makes my blood boil when I think of it. 

July 19— [To W. H. Aspinwall, New York.] * * * My main 
object in writing to you is to ask you to be kind enough to cast your 
eyes about to see whether there is anything I can do in New York to 
earn a respectable support for my family. 

July 20 — I believe that it is now certain that Halleck is commander- 
in-chief. * * * J cannot remain permanently in the armyt 
after this slight * * * j have had enough of earthly honors 

*A special committee appointed by the Military Historical Society of 
Massachusetts to report impartially upon McClellan's conduct, censured 
him with great severity, declaring that "owing to his profound con- 
tempt" for his superiors he did not "propose to obey orders" and, among 
several other indictments, declared that "simple obedience to the orders 
of the General-in-Chief [Halleck] would have saved the country from 
immense losses." 

fin Volume IV. of "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," Ulysses 
S. Grant says: "The worst excuse a soldier can make for declining service 
is that of having once ranked the commander he is ordered to report to." 






Stanton's Indictment of McClellan. 

Stanton's Indictment of McClellan. 


and place. * * * * j ^^j^ gj^-j^ ^^^^ weary of this business. I 
am tired of serving fools. 

July 21 — I see that the Pope bubble is likely to be suddenly collapsed. 
Jackson is after him and the young man who wanted to teach me the art 
of war will, in less than a week, either be in full retreat or badly whipped. 

July 30 — I am sorry to say that * * * j-qo much faith can- 
not be rested in Halleck. 

August 2 — When you contrast the policy I urged in my letter [of July 
8] to the President with that of Congress and Mr. Pope, you can readily 
agree with me that there can be little confidence between the Government 
and myself. JVe are the antipodes of each other. * * * g^j. j shall 
consult my sense of right and my own judgment, not deferring to that of 

August 8 — I will issue to-morrow an order giving my comments on Mr. 
John Pope. I will strike square in the teeth of all his infamous orders and 
give directly the reverse instructions to my army. * * * j have 
received my orders from Halleck. * * * They are as bad as 
they can be and I regard them as almost fatal to our cause. * * * 
I shall obey the orders unless the enemy gives me a very good open- 
ing. * * * I had another letter from Halleck to-night. I 
strongly suspect him. 

August 10 — The absurdity of Halleck's course in ordering the army 
away from here is that it cannot reach Washington in time to do any 
good, but will be necessarily too late. I hope to be ready to-morrow 
afternoon to move forivard in the direction of Richmond. * * * * 
Halleck is turning out just like the rest of the herd. * * * j 
half apprehend they will be too quick for me in Washington and relieve 
me before I have the chance of making the dash. * * * j ^^j^ 
satisfied the dolts m Washington are bent on my destruction. * *" 

* They are committing a fatal error in withdrawing me from 
here * * * j think the result * * * ^jjl ^g ^hat 
Pope will be badly thrashed within ten days and they will be glad to turn 
the redemption of affairs over to me. 

August 14 — I shall conduct the march to Fortress Monroe and attend 
to the embarkation thence; my mind is pretty much made up to try to break 
off at that point. 

August 21 — I still think they will put me on the shelf or do something 
disagreeable to get me out of the way. I shall be glad of anything that 
severs my connection with such a set. * * * They may go 
to the deuce in their own way. 

August 22 — I shall be only too happy to get back to quiet life again. 
* * * * I am not fond of being made a target for the abuse and 
slander of all the rascals in the country. 


Lincoln was elected on a strong pro-slavery platform, which 
he endorsed in his letter of acceptance. In his inaugural address 
he declared : "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere 
with slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no 
lawful right to do so." 

Jefiferson Davis, the insurgent president, entertained the same 
view and made war to enforce it. 

Stanton, coming on a year later, declared that Lincoln was not 
bound by the platform of 1860, nor by his letter of acceptance, nor 
yet by his inaugural address. Conditions had changed since then. 
"Those pledges had been wiped out by the very war they had been 
expected to avert," he urged. Lincoln adhered to different views, 
so Stanton was compelled to take practical action upon matters 
as he found them. His situation was difficult. The upheaving fer- 
ment of war was inciting thousands of slaves to escape into the 
Union armies and communities. General B. F. Butler had termed 
them "contraband of war" and set them to work. General John 
C. Fremont had proclaimed all slaves within his jurisdiction 
(Missouri) free, which proclamation Lincoln annulled ; General 
Phelps, disregarding Lincoln's revocations, declared from Ship 
Island, Mississippi, that the slaves within his district were free, 
and General Grant forbade any party from crossing the Federal 
lines to hunt escaped slaves or the return of slaves "used by the 
enemy in any manner hostile to the Government" * * * 
and that they should "be employed for the benefit of the 

Stanton lost no time in urging the necessity of "knocking the 
main prop" from under the secession cause, but Lincoln and the 
remaining members of the cabinet (except Chase) seemed to be 
immovably set against his policy. However, Lincoln soon realized 
the fatality of unalterable opposition in time of war to his war 
minister, and unfolded his proclamation of March 6, 1862, in which 


Congress was asked to cooperate financially with any State wishing 
to gradually abolish slavery. 

"Such a proposition on the part of the general Government," 
said Lincoln, "sets up no claims of right by Federal authority to 
interfere with slavery within State limits, referring as it does the 
absolute control of the subject in each case to the State and its 
people immediately interested." 

"We shall be compelled to retreat from that policy or retreat 
from Washington," urged Stanton. "We shall be forced to deal 
with slaves as with any other form of enemy's property. There 
will be no action whatever under the resolution you propose. 
Besides, it commits the administration to the theory that this is not 
a nation, the very theory for which the secessionists are contending 
with force and arms." 

Lincoln, without responding to Stanton's argument, put the 
question to a vote and his proclamation was approved 3 to 2, Stan- 
ton not voting. Thereupon it was uttered, but as Stanton pre- 
dicted, "no action whatever" was taken under it by any of the 
States affected. It was not even published by the newspapers of 
those States. 

The earliest official utterance indicative that Stanton did not 
agree and could not successfully act in accord with Lincoln's views 
on slavery, is contained in a letter dated May 5, 1862, to General 
Mitchell, in which he said : 

The assistance of slaves is an element of military strength which 
you are fully justified in employing. * * * jj. j^^g bggn freely 
employed by the enemy and to abstain from its judicious use when it can 
be employed with military advantage would be a failure to employ means 
to suppress the Rebellion and restore the authority of the Government. 

On May 9, 1862, General David Hunter issued a proclamation 
declaring all the slaves in his territory — Georgia, Florida, and 
South Carolina — "forever free." Lincoln promptly set it aside as 
void, but the Africans looked upon it as valid and flocked to its 
author by thousands. He subsisted and made use of them as if they 
were free, whereupon Congress asked Stanton whether he had per- 
mitted certain generals to profit by the work and services of 
colored persons and whether he had issued arms and clothing for 
those "slaves." He made a significant answer: He had no "official" 
information as to whether General Hunter had organized a regi- 
ment of "black men, fugitive slaves," and that while Hunter had 


"not been authorized to organize and muster" those black men, he 
had been furnished with clothing and arms for the forces under his 
command "without instructions as to where they should be used." 

Thus, while Lincoln, so far as proclamations could do so, was 
returning negroes in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina to 
slavery, Stanton was silently but effectively equipping them to 
strike for the preservation of the Union. But he much disliked the 
position into which he was being forced by the attitude of the 
President on the one hand and the constantly augmenting number 
of escaping slaves he was compelled to deal with throughout the 
army on the other, and decided, in May, 1862, to issue an emancipa- 
tion, or, as he conceived it, "Confiscation Proclamation," on his own 

He submitted the draft to Generals Townsend and Meigs — to 
the former as acting adjutant-general who would have to issue the 
document, and to the latter as quartermaster-general who would 
have to provide thfe increased clothing, equipment, and stores con- 
sequent on such a step. On this point nothing could be more inter- 
esting or trustworthy than the testimony of General Townsend : 

At about the time the President annulled General Hunter's proclama- 
tion in relation to slaves, Mr. Stanton handed me an order, in his own pen- 
manship, declaring that all slaves and other estate of rebellious persons 
had been forfeited to the United States and instructing commanders to re- 
gard blacks coming v^rithin the terms thereof as free, as in fact, they were, 
and to treat them accordingly. 

The paper was carefully but strongly worded. Mr. Stanton asked me 
whether any military corrections were required and whether I doubted his 
authority to issue it. At the close of the day I returned the order to him 
with one or two verbal changes and said to him that I had no doubt of his 
authority to issue it if he thought advisable to do so. My impression is that 
Peter H. Watson, assistant secretary of war, secured legal opinions con- 
firmatory of Mr. Stanton's claim that he could treat the slaves of insurgent 
owners as forfeited to the State; and, as the State could have no bondmen, 
that such slaves were therefore free. 

It would have been my duty as acting adjutant-general, to issue tla£ or- 
der; hence, Mr. Stanton's consultation with me about it. There was so 
much commotion over military orders declaring certain blacks free that Mr. 
Stanton, wholly out of consideration for Mr. Lincoln, dropped his procla- 
mation and instigated the Confiscation Act [passed on July 17, 1862] which 
accomplished the same purpose with less friction. 

Lincoln proposed to veto and actually wrote a message vetoing 
the Confiscation Act asked for by Stanton, holding it to be uncon- 


stitutional. He said, as he had often said before, that Congress had 
no right to legislate respecting slavery in the States, and that not 
the property of rebels in fee but simply the offender's life estate 
therein could be forfeited to the United States.* 

Stanton advised that this contention was erroneous in law, 
wrong in theory, and destructive in practise ; but, as the President 
would not yield, a declaratory resolution was swiftly prepared and 
passed by Congress a few hours later, on the same day, explaining 
that the act was not intended to do more than forfeit the life estate 
of insurgents in their confiscated property. 

Later Lincoln was forced to recede from his position and, 
through George W. Julian, acknowledged his error to Congress. 
Thereupon a bill to repeal the explanatory limitation was presented 
and Stanton's wisdom vindicated ; not, however, before there had 
been a great waste of national eflfort and substance, for he was 
compelled constantly to find a way to go ahead according to con- 
ditions as he found them, which he did by accepting all willing 
blacks into the military service. 

Of the cabinet meeting of July 21, Mr. Chase wrote in his 
diary : 

The Secretary of War presented some letters from General Hunter ad- 
vising the Department that the withdrawal of a large portion of his troops 
to reinforce General McClellan rendered it highly important that he should 
be immediately authorized to enlist all loyal persons without reference to 
complexion. The President expressed himself adverse to arming negroes. 

At the session next day Stanton made an almost irresistible 
effort in favor of a decisive blow to slavery as an all-important 
war measure, contending for three hours against Lincoln and the 
entire cabinet. Some fragmentary notes of this "acrimonious ses- 
sion," made in ink on the spot by himself, state that he advocated 
"immediate emancipation," that Seward was opposed because such 
a step would "break up our relations with foreign nations and the 
production of cotton for sixty years," and that Chase was opposed 
because he feared it would "lead to universal emancipation." 

Nevertheless Stanton made every possible use of slaves in the 

*William Whiting, solicitor of the War Department and the greatest 
authority in the United States on martial and military law, says in "War 
Powers Under the Constitution," that Lincoln was wholly wrong in his at- 
titude on this subject. 


army. At first the difficulty of paying them was great, as the enlist- 
ment of blacks, bond or free, in the regular army or even State 
militia, was prohibited by the act of May 8, 1792, and by the army 
regulations of 1816. In the case of General B. F. Butler, however, 
the adverse rulings of the Treasury were circumvented. He says : 

After Mr. Stanton became secretary of war I was always fully, though 
sometimes surreptitiously sustained in my efforts to utilize the black man in 
the army, but the President was hostile. I had written urgently from New 
Orleans for reinforcements, saying that I should have to call on Africa for 
aid if I could not get it from Washington. My correspondence with Lin- 
coln was not answered, but Secretary Stanton replied by filling a requisition 
for 5,000 arms and as many sets of equipment and clothing, with no restric- 
tions, as there had been previously, that they were to be used for zvhite sol- 
diers only. Of course I understood that and acted accordingly. 

My black regiments were mustered regularly and entered active service 
the last of August, 1862. Perhaps I should add that before leaving for New 
Orleans, I talked with the President about the blacks. He said he was not 
prepared to discuss a negro policy. I then went to Mr. Stanton. His an- 
swer was prompt. He told me to hold, equip, employ, or arm all the negroes 
who came to me, if it should be all in my Department. I was about to do 
so openly when the news of Lincoln's voidance of Hunter's proclamation 
arrived. I have explained how I managed after that. 

In August, General Rufus Saxton succeeded General Hunter in 
control of freedmen, abandoned lands, and the organization of 
colored troops in the Department of the South and received instruc- 
tions from Stanton, under date of August 25, 1862, granting 
authority to employ (1) not to exceed fifty thousand laborers at 
five dollars per month for common and eight dollars for skilled (2) 
with clothing and subsistence ; (3) to "enlist, enroll, arm, equip, 
and drill for military service for the purpose of guarding plantations 
and settlements occupied by the United States from invasion and 
to protect the inhabitants thereof from captivity and murder by the 
enemy," not exceeding five thousand volunteers of African descent 
(4) "to be entitled to receive the same pay and rations as are 
allowed by law to volunteers in the service." And further : 

(5) The population of African descent that cultivate the lands and 
perform the labor of the rebels constitute a large portion of their military 
strength, and enable the white masters to fill the rebel armies and make 
a cruel and murderous war against the people of the Northern States. By 
reducing the strength of the rebels, their military power will be reduced. 
You are therefore authorized by every means in your power to withdraw 
from the enemy their labor force and population, and to spare no efforts, 


consistent with civilized warfare, to weaken, harass, and annoy them, and 
to establish the authority of the United States within your Department; 

(7) By recent act of Congress [July 17, 1862] all men and boys re- 
ceived into the service of the United States, who may have been the slaves 
of rebel masters, are, with their wives, mothers, and children, declared to 
be forever free. You and your command will so treat and regard them. 

Lincoln continued to resist "for reasons that will probably 
never be written," Stanton says in his letter of September 16, 1866, 
to J. M. Ashley, the pressure and tendency toward manumission. 
Nine days before he finally yielded and signed the so-called Eman- 
cipation Proclamation, he said in answer to a Chicago delegation 
which came to advocate a decisive blow at slavery: "What good 
would a proclamation from me do? I do not want to issue a docu- 
ment that the whole world will see must be inoperative, like the 
Pope's bull against the comet." 

But he was, as Secretary Welles says, finally compelled to 
succumb, and on September 22, 1862, signed a proclamation pro- 
posing to emancipate all slaves (not forever abolish slavery as a 
right*) in certain rebellious sections on the following first of 
January ; and, if agreeable, to purchase or pay for freeing slaves in 
the loyal States and sections. 

The second proclamation, that of January 1, 1863, which 
formally freed slaves that were already practically free by the 
operations of war, was equally partial. It did not touch the general 
fabric of slavery nor even cover all the States in open rebellion. 

Secretary Seward says that the matter of emancipation "had 
been discussed for months before the proclamation was issued," the 
debates "being earnest and acrimonious," and that Lincoln was 
"opposed to it." At a meeting in Philadelphia on October 31, 1868, 
Stanton replied to the attacks made on his "war policy" by Horatio 
Seymour, then running for the presidency, saying among other 
things : 

Now what was the policy of the Secretary of War? It was to pursue 
the enemy to the last extremity; to smite him wherever he was to be found. 

♦"Although not popularly so understood, the proclamation of Septem- 
b«r 22, 1862, was not an emancipatory document. It promulgated, with 
executive sanction, sections 9 and 10 of the confiscation act of July 17, 1862, 
which I believe were written by Secretary Stanton, and which, being of- 
ficially proclaimed by him within five days of their enactment, were already 
pperative," says Adjutant-General Townsend, 


By day and by night it was to carry forward the flag of the United States 
and to trample under foot the flag of the rebels. It was to stand by Abra- 
ham Lincoln to the last, by day and by night to be at his side, to uphold 
his arms, to encourage him in his efforts towards liberty, to strengthen him 
and support him in his hostility to the enemy, and, above all, to convince him 
that upon the rock of emancipation we must build our safety. 

What did he mean when he said that his poHcy was, "above all, 
to convince him [Lincoln] that upon the rock of emancipation we 
must build our safety"? If Lincoln was not opposed to emancipa- 
tion, why was it "above all" necessary to "convince him" in its 

General Thomas M. Vincent, U. S. A., of Washington, D. C, 
who was assistant adjutant-general during the war and very close 
to both Stanton and Lincoln, says : "Lincoln resisted military 
interference with slaves for months and I do not believe there would 
have been any decisive action on emancipation except for Mr. Stan- 
ton. He created the administration policy in reference to slaves 
and slavery. We all understood that," 

"Mr. Stanton's impatience with the slowness of President Lin- 
coln to proclaim emancipation was great," says Charles A. Dana, 
"and was expressed more freely to the President than to anybody 
else. When the proclamation finally came, his delight and his 
gratitude to God were unbounded. Now, at last, he felt that no 
blunder and no disaster could avert the ultimate triumph of our 

In January, 1863, he appointed a Freedmen's Inquiry Commis- 
sion, composed of Robert Dale Owen of Indiana, James McKay of 
New York, and Samuel G. Howe of Boston, to investigate and 
report upon the colored population and "how they can be most use- 
fully employed in the service of the Government for the suppression 
of the Rebellion." ' 

In May of that year. he established a separate bureau in the 
War Department to have charge of colored volunteers and sent 
Adjutant-General Thomas through the South to promote colored 
enlistments and discipline officers* who opposed the policy of 
employing African soldiers, and was the father of the Freedmen's 

*He himself ordered Grant to telegraph to General Sherman to "fur- 
nish facilities to organize colored troops. He [Sherman] appears indiffer- 
ent if not hostile." 


"From the moment Mr. Stanton became secretary of war," 
says General E. D. Townsend, "he never relaxed his efforts to 
destroy slavery in the rebellious territory as the surest and cheapest, 
if not the only, salvation of the Union, and to w^in Mr. Lincoln 
over to that way of thinking." 

In his first formal report to Congress Stanton declared : 

Above all things it is our duty to disdain no legitimate aid that may 
save the lives of our gallant soldiers, diminish their labors, provide for their 
wants, and lessen the burdens of our people. So far from the Southern 
States being invincible, no enemy was ever more vulnerable if the means 
at hand be employed against them. The power of the rebels rests upon 
their peculiar system of labor which keeps laborers upon their plantations 
to support the ones who are devoting their time and strength to destroy 
our armies and our Government. It is, in my opinion, the duty of those 
conducting the war to strike down the system and turn against the rebels 
the productive power that upholds the insurrection. 

In his official report for 1863 he said : 

The colored troops have been allowed no bounty, and under the con- 
struction given by the Department they can only, by existing law, receive 
the pay of $10 per month; white soldiers being paid $13 per month with 
clothing and a daily ration. There seems to be an inequality and injustice in 
this distinction, and an amendment authorizing the same pay and bounty 
as white troops receive is recommended. As soldiers of the Union, fighting 
under its banner and exposing their lives in battle to uphold the Govern- 
ment, colored troops are entitled to enjoy its justice and beneficence. 

"Stanton was the great emancipator," says Major A. E. H. 
Johnson. "He did infinitely more for the freedom of the black man 
than the President and all others combined. He did more to make 
him a full soldier in the army than any other person in the nation, 
and he used the power of war to put the negro where he could 
help to save the Republic. Dr. Alexander T. Augusta, a skilful 
negro physician of Washington, showed his gratitude for this jus- 
tice and courage in behalf of his race by bequeathing five hundred 
dollars to Mr. Stanton."* 

The hand of the martyr Lincoln did indeed at last formally 
sign a partial emancipation, but the far-seeing brain of Stanton, 
much in advance of that document, found a way to enlist nearly 

*Dr. Augusta was appointed by Stanton to be a surgeon in the army 
in 1863, the first colored man given such an appointment. He served till 
1867 and was made brevet-colonel for meritorious service. 


two hundred thousand slaves in the army ; instigated the Confisca- 
tion Act of July 17, 1862; and finally urged through the Trumbull 
Amendment of the constitution, which must forever stand as the 
real death-blow to human bondage as a legal right. 

That amendment passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the 
House on January 31, 1865. When the vote was concluded at 4 
o'clock in the afternoon, Congressman J. M. Ashley (of Ohio), who 
carried the laboring oar in the House contest, jumped into a car- 
riage and drove rapidly to the War Office with a list of those who 
had voted "aye." 

Stanton had already received the news by telegraph and had 
ordered three batteries of artillery to "fire one hundred guns with 
their heaviest charges" in the heart of the city. Between the thun- 
dering reverberations of this salute, which shook every house in 
the national capital, Stanton read aloud the names of those who 
supported the amendment, saying: "History will embalm them in 
great honor." 


Rehabilitating McCIellan and placing him in charge of the de- 
fense of Washington on September 2, 1862, produced surprising 
results. He gathered up the inpouring streams of stragglers and, in 
a wonderfully short time, manned the forts and entrenchments, or- 
ganized and disposed the forces, and brought order out of chaos ; 
but he did not, as many have claimed, save Washington. 

Lee "saved Washington." The capital was lost for not less 
than five days after and including August 30, if Lee had known it. 
Its capture would have been a mere holiday excursion, but Lee was 
unaware of the real situation, and, feeling the severity of the pun- 
ishment he had received from Pope, retired on September 3 to re- 
plenish his exhausted stores of ammunition and food. Having re- 
victualed his command, he inaugurated a march into Maryland to- 
wards Pennsylvania. McCIellan, without direct orders to do so, 
suddenly marched away to intercept him. 

Before engaging Lee at Antietam, however, he resumed his 
demand for the troops which had been retained for the defense of 
the capital, making this very extraordinary statement : "Even if 
Washington should be taken while these armies are confronting 
each other, this would not, in my judgment, bear comparison with 
the ruin and disaster which would follow a single defeat of this 
army. // we should be successful in conquering the gigantic rebel 
army before us, we would have no difficulty in recovering Wash- 

"I have often heard Mr. Stanton speak of the singular conduct 
and expressions of McCIellan as to the safety of Washington," says 
Major A. E. H. Johnson. "McCIellan seemed to wish to put the 
capital in a condition that would compel the flight of the whole 
'crew,' as he called the cabinet and the President." 

Lincoln and his cabinet in flight or captivity would create a 
situation, McCIellan believed, which would justify him in assuming 


the dictatorship ; and that, according to his correspondence, is what 
he seems to have been seeking. 

If Washington had been captured in September, 1862, Jefferson 
Davis and his "government at Richmond" could have been its 
occupants within twenty-four hours; England and France* and 
probably other countries would have joined in recognition of the 
Confederacy ; an army from the four hundred thousand Knights of 
the Golden Circle and their sympathizers, who had kept the North 
divided between loyalty and disloyalty, would have rushed on with 
their enthusiastic aid and the Union as it is might have perished 
from the earth ! 

McClellan met the enemy on the 14th, 15th, and 16th of Sep- 
tember at South Mountain and Antietam (Maryland) and was not 
whipped. Lincoln telegraphed to him on the afternoon of the 
15th : "God bless you and all with you ! Destroy the rebel army 
if you can!" 

Although, in the meantime, the Confederates had taken Har- 
per's Ferry, Lee's army, barefooted, foodless, and expecting pur- 
suit, could have been wiped out, and McClellan was repeatedly 
ordered to pursue and crush it, but did not obey. Fitz-John Porter 
was standing by with thirty-five thousand veterans, in full ammuni- 
tion, and, although he could have fallen upon Lee with deadly 
effect, he was not ordered and did not volunteer to fire a gun ; and 
thus a day that should have scored an overwhelming victory, closed 
upon what was relatively a fiasco — notwithstanding the important 
fact that Lee's advance into the North had been effectually checked. 

The telegrams from Washington ordering McClellan to pro- 
ceed, to move, became frequent and mandatory. He parried them 
with a formal complaint that he had not horses enough and had 
been receiving them at the rate of only one hundred and fifty per 
week. Stanton ordered an official report which showed that during 
the previous six weeks over one million, two hundred thousand dol- 
lars had been expended for horses for McClellan's command alone, 
and that McClellan's officers had been receipting for an average de- 

*In September, 1862, the French Emperor Napoleon, through Drouyn de 
I'Huys was pressing England and Russia to join in securing the independence 
of the South. During that month Lord Russell of England wrote officially: 
"The time has come to oflfer mediation to the United States with a view to 
the recognition of the independence of the Confederates. In case of failure zve ought 
ourselves to recognise the Southern States as an independent StateV 


livery of one thousand, four hundred and fifty-nine horses per week, 
besides many mules and "restitution" animals ! One by one his ex- 
cuses for refusing to advance were exploded by official records, 
which Stanton was careful to lay before Lincoln, though without 
comment or recommendation. 

McClellan now announced that he would occupy Maryland 
Heights, "watch the enemy closely" and get ready for winter, 
though winter was yet a long distance away. Lincoln was in 
despair and appealed to Stanton. "He is in your hands," was the 
significant reply. In the meantime the Emancipation Proclamation 
(so-called) had been issued, concerning which McClellan wrote 
to his wife on September 25: "The President's late proclamation 
and the continuation of Stanton and Halleck in office render it 
almost impossible for me to retain my commission and my self- 
respect at the same time." 

Colonel Albert V. Colburn, a member of his staflf, states that 
when McClellan saw the proclamation in the Baltimore Sun he 
hurled the paper into the corner, exclaiming: "There! Look at 
that outrage ! I shall resign to-morrow !" He made the same threat 
to several others, who repeated it to Stanton. He did not resign, 
however, but on October 5, wrote to his wife: "Mr. Aspinwall is 
decidedly of the opinion that it is my duty to submit to the Presi- 
dent's proclamation. I presume he is right. I shall surely give 
his views full consideration." 

It was his duty to promulgate the proclamation the moment it 
came, with the "orders of the day" ; yet, when he wrote mentioning 
Mr. Aspinwall's advice, he had disobediently suppressed it for 
more than a week and continued to suppress it from the army until 
October 7. He then issued it with a curious dissertation on poli- 
tics which ended: "The remedy for political errors, if any are 
committed, is to be found only in the action of the people at the 
polls." He had decided, fortunately, after long consultation and 
reflection, not to use his army to "remedy" what he regarded as 
the "political error" of the administration in issuing the Emanci- 
pation Proclamation. 

In the meantime, Lee, chuckling at his easy escape out of 
Maryland — for he expected McClellan to pursue him — had crossed 
the mountains and formed a junction with Longstreet near Cul- 
pepper, Virginia, and was once more entrenched between Rich- 
mond and the Army of the Potomac, thus enabled to perform the 


double duty of covering Richmond and menacing Washington with 
the same guns. Stanton communicated this information to Lin- 
coln with the query: "Mr. President, what do you think now?" 

"As you do," responded Lincoln, writing a memorandum order, 
dated November 5, 1862, relieving McClellan from the command 
of the Army of the Potomac and appointing Burnside as his suc- 
cessor, which was supplemented by an order of even date, directing 
McClellan to report at Trenton, New Jersey (his home), to "take 
command of his chickens and cabbages," the newspapers 
explained.* That ended his active connection with the army, 
although he did not make his report until August, 1863, and did 
not resign his commission until November, 1864 — after his defeat 
at the polls for the presidency. Immediately following the dis- 
missal, his partisans sent subscription papers for circulation in his 
behalf through the army. Stanton, declaring that the performance 
was an "insult to the President," ordered it stopped. 

In response to an inquiry of November 11, 1862, from the pre- 
ceptor of his childhood, the Reverend Heman Dyer, for an explana- 
tion of McClellan's removal, Stanton wrote among other things : 

When General McClellan failed to obey the order of the President to 
move against the enemy, given on the 6th of October, I thought he ought 
to be removed on the spot. Nearly a month, time enough to have made a 
victorious campaign, was lost by his disobedience of orders. When his 
creatures and those who are enemies of the country undertook to apolo- 
gize for the delay by the false pretense that they needed supplies that were 
withheld from them by the War Department, my duty to the country re- 
quired the exposure of the falsehood and I demanded a report from the 

It is not my fault that he was not removed before the New York elec- 
tion, after his disobedience of orders. The loss of three weeks' time rests 
not upon my shoulders. 

In respect to any combination between Mr. Chase, Mr. Seward,t and 

♦General Herman Haupt says: "I ate supper with McClellan at Rector- 
town, Virginia, late on the evening of the night he was superseded by Burn- 
side. I was present when the messengers arrived with the order and went 
with them over to Burnside's headquarters. McClellan did not expect the 
blow, having spent some time that evening explaining to me what he 
intended to do." 

fNo influence in favor of retaining McClellan was so strong and effec- 
tive with Lincoln as Seward's. Seward and McClellan were close friends, 
the former always referring to the latter affectionately as "George." 

Gen. Robert E. Lee. 


myself against General McClellan, it is utterly false, for reasons needless to 
mention. Fire and water would as soon combine. Each does his duty as 
he deems right. 

In respect to the imputation of selfish or ambitious motives, denial is 
useless. Those who make it do so in ignorance of my principles of action, 
or with prejudiced feeling, and like all other public men, I must expect and 
patiently bear misconstruction and false report. 

Turning neither to the right hand nor to the left, serving no man and 
at enmity with none, I shall strive to perform my whole duty to this great 
work before us. Mistakes and faults I no doubt may commit, but the pur- 
pose of my action shall be single to the public good. 

In his "Own Story" McClellan says that his removal created 
such a "deep feeling in the army" that "many were in favor of his 
refusing to obey the order and marching upon Washington and 
taking possession of the Government" — just what Jefiferson Davis 
tried for four years to do, at a cost, on both sides, of over five hun- 
dred thousands of lives and several billions of treasure. 

In discussing McClellan's unfortunate contest with Stanton 
and humiliating retirement, General M. C. Meigs, who knew him 
intimately, says : 

When McClellan was promoted, I went to him, for I was his friend — 
his close friend — and said: "General, you are now in the way to occupy the 
place occupied by Washington. You are to be commander of all the armies 
and finally president. It is the greatest opportunity in the world at this 
time — one of the greatest of any time." 

But, poor fellow, he swelled up, outgrew advice, became pompous, and 
wanted to be surrounded by courtiers, aides, and retinues. He seemed to 
have forgotten all about fighting in his overweening determination to re- 
main at Washington and direct in grandeur. He commanded from the rear 
instead of the front, and so, of course, failed — fell into irretrievable dis- 
aster. Grant would have failed too, if he had adopted the same tactics — 
failed ignomlniously. 

When McClellan did leave Washington it was because Stanton literally 
kicked him out of town. This weakness for vain display and hanging around 
Washington to dine and be petted by society, is the beginning of the con- 
duct which led to his suspension from the position of general-in-chief and 
finally from any command in the army. 

Besides the weakness mentioned, he was always afraid that if he should 
actually get into a fight some of his men, if not himself, might get hurt. 
Grant had absolutely no fear of death for himself or his men. He hesi- 
tated to do nothing needful even when certain that great slaughter was in- 
evitable. Like Stanton, his single purpose was to vanquish the enemy, tear 
the Rebellion to tatters, and he well knew, as did Stanton, that, especially 
when opposed by a splendid foe like ours, it could not be done for nothing. 


On this point, too, McClellan failed. He had no clear comprehension of 
the real essence of war. Military men were astonished that he was not 
superseded sooner, and foreign critics that he was not court-martialed. 

General U. S. Grant relates : 

Having been at West Point and seen some service in Mexico, I borrowed 
money early in 1861 to go to Cincinnati, where General McClellan was in 
charge, to offer my services. I had known him in Mexico and went im- 
mediately to headquarters and was announced. Not being permitted to 
see him that day, I returned early in the morning, ahead of all other callers, 
and waited until night. He did not see me, nor fix a time for an interview, 
so I returned to Illinois. No harm was done; but when General McClellan 
attempted to subject Mr. Lincoln and especially Secretary Stanton to the 
same kind of treatment, the result was serious. 

Major A. E. H. Johnson says Stanton "never spoke harshly of 
McClellan," never went further than to declare that he was "in- 
capable of leading a fighting army and should be suspended for the 
safety of the Union; never questioned his motives or discussed his 

No sane man takes a step without "motives." In his "Own 
Story" McClellan says: "Taking both East and West and count- 
ing losses also by disease, I do not doubt that more than half a 
million of men* were sacrificed unnecessarily for the sake of insur- 
ing the success of a political party." Thus he terms the triumph 
of the Union arms the "success of a political party !" 

As he did not belong to that party, he must have desired its 
defeat — which meant the defeat of the Union. At any rate, he 
admits his own defeat, where, on page 35 of his "Own Story," 
he says : 

Many of the Democratic leaders did me great harm by using my name 
for party purposes without my knowledge or consent; and without intend- 
ing it, probably did more than my armed enemies in the way of ruining my 
military career. 

*Adjutant-General R. C. Drum gives the total losses in battle and pris- 
on, and from murder, drowning, suicide, accident, and unknown causes in 
the Union army from April 15, 1861 to December 20, 1867 — at 359,528! Mc- 
Clellan was not referring to the entire war period when he put the "un- 
necessary" political sacrifices at "more than half a million," but to that 
portion following Stanton's advent, in 1862. Thus, the misstatement be- 
comes so great that the world must be astonished that even McClellan 
dared to use it! 


Thus he admits, first, that his "military career" was "ruined"; 
second, that, since the "Democratic leaders" did, Stanton did not 
ruin it! 

If McClellan had followed the advice given by Stanton in the 
Barlow letter of November, 1861, which was to "mind his own 
Department and win a victory" — "keep out of politics"* — he might 
have been elected president in 1864 — certainly in 1868. 

"Capture Richmond and fetch Jeff Davis to Washington," said 
Stanton to him in February, 1862, "and the Rebellion will be 
ended and you will be president." But he would not do it, nor try 
to do it ; so Richmond was the last while Stanton insisted that it 
should be the first Confederate city to fall, and McClellan's "mili- 
tary career" was "ruined." 

In 1864 the righteousness of Stanton's acts concerning McClel- 
lan were put upon trial. The so-called Democratic national con- 
vention nominated McClellan for president on a platform declaring 
the war a failure, and appealed to the people for a "vindication." 
The result was an overwhelming vindication for Stanton, only 
three States — Delaware, New Jersey, and Kentucky — giving their 
votes to "Little Mac." 

*On July 27, 1861, McClellan wrote to his wife: "By some strange 
operation of magic I seem to have become the center of power. I receive 
letters often alluding to the presidency, dictatorship, etc. / would cheerfully 
take the dictatorship and lay down my life when the country is saved!" To 
assume command of and run everything, to establish himself as a dictator, 
became an infatuation which apparently never left him till he was dis- 
missed from the army. After dining with McClellan in Washington, Dr. 
Ives, the Confederate spy, telegraphed to the New York Herald: "If the 
factious abolition leaders do not speedily draw in their horns they may 
find in General McClellan such a Tartar as the Long Parliament found in 
Cromwell and the Council of Five Hundred in Napoleon Bonaparte." Evi- 
dently he had disclosed to Dr. Ives his plan to imitate Cromwell by seizing 
the capital and driving out Congress with the bayonet. He put in writing 
his scheme to secure control of the entire War Department, while Cameron 
was yet secretary, by preparing a memorandum advocating the abolishment 
of the adjutant-general and the inspector-general and their Departments and 
"merging their functions in those of his general stafif officers." He pre- 
pared an array of seventy heads of Departments to be uiider his own con- 
trol, so that no order could be given to any officer or part of the army 
without his approval, thus doing away with the president and secretary of 
war in military affairs. 



Stanton was full of aggressive excitement over Lee's proposed 
invasion of the North which ended in the great battle of Gettys- 
burg, in which, on both sides, fifty-three thousand were killed, 
wounded, and missing. Apparently, at first, Pittsburg was the 
initial objective. He therefore resolved to mass an intercepting 
army near the border of Pennsylvania ; sent all the field artillery 
at Watervliet (New York) Arsenal to Pittsburg by express, and 
telegraphed to W. T. H. Brooks, on June 10, 1863 : 

Intelligence received this morning of enemy's designs makes it certain 
that you cannot be too early or too busily at work. Pittsburg will be a 
point aimed at by Stuart's raid. Frankly inform the people of Pittsburg 
that they must be at work. 

Four days later the secret service reported that Philadelphia 
was to be captured first and Stanton so informed Governor Curtin 
and, on June 14, suggested that the War Department would "offer 
no objection" to calling out the militia of Pennsylvania. Next 
day he telegraphed to all the loyal governors explaining Lee's 
purpose and asking how many men could be forwarded to Penn- 
sylvania at once if the President should call for them. The replies 
were such that Lincoln immediately issued his proclamation and 
the near-by States, especially New York, began to hurry forward 
their militia. 

By June 27 Lee's exact route was definable — Chambersburg, 
Carlisle, and York to Philadelphia. On that day Governor Curtin 
called out the militia and Stanton telegraphed that all the men 
enlisting under the call would be armed and equipped at Federal 
expense on the requisition of General Couch, who had been sent 
to Harrisburg. 

The strength of Lee's army is a matter yet in dispute, but 
General Herman Haupt, director of Military Railways, and Thomas 


A. Scott of the Pennsylvania railway made a careful count at 
Chambersburg and found two hundred and thirty-six pieces of 
artillery and ninety-two thousand men — all veterans and as high 
grade fighters as the world ever produced. 

Stanton had gathered perhaps a greater army near Gettysburg, 
but many were raw recruits. Lee's troops, although veterans, were 
weary, scantily supplied with provisions, and not overstocked with 
ammunition, while the Federals were generally fresh and pro- 
vided with everything that an omnipotent war minister and an 
opulent Government could supply. 

General Hooker had been in command but, on the 27th, Stan- 
ton relieved him and appointed General George G, Meade in his 
stead. His reasons for this sudden change are not recorded ; but 
Meade was a Pennsylvanian and, fighting in and for his native 
State, would call out its forces and enthusiasm. Besides, Stanton 
had become much dissatisfied with Hooker for permitting his camp 
to swarm with newspaper reporters and women,* and exasperated 
with him for making no decisive move to intercept Lee's raid into 

General Haupt, after several interviews with him at Fairfax, 
learned that Hooker did not intend to oppose Lee's Northern inva- 
sion nor make any other move "without orders." Haupt hastened 
to Washington to disclose that fact to Stanton and General-in- 
Chief Halleck, and was informed, after reporting the situation, that 
Hooker would be superseded.! 

Having appointed a new commander, massed all the troops 
he could get, and poured unlimited quantities of munitions and 
stores into southeastern Pennsylvania, Stanton, on the 29th, issued 
his usual "extraordinary discretion" to those in charge. General 
Haupt was authorized to do anything he pleased; General Dana 

*The following is an official telegram of June 6, 1863, from Stanton to 
Hooker: "I have been trying to keep the women out of your camp, but, find- 
ing that they were going in troops under passes, as they said, from your 
provost marshal and commanders, I have given up the job." 

t"At my interview with General Halleck," says General Haupt, "I was 
shown correspondence in which Hooker proposed to let Lee go unmolested 
into the North, while he took the Army of the Potomac South to capture 
Richmond. Both Stanton and Lincoln were astonished at this plan, the lat- 
ter, I think, writing that to exchange Washington for Richmond would be 
an inexcusably bad bargain," 


was told to impress tugs, steamers, or anything else, if necessary, 
and remove and save the plant and machinery of Jenks and Son at 
Philadelphia, makers of Government arms ; President Garrett, T. A. 
Scott, and S. M. Felton were ordered to keep their railway lines 
open and running at any expense or hazard ; and Quartermaster- 
General Meigs was instructed to "exhaust the resources of the 
Government" in furnishing whatever the army might need. 

His telegram to President Garrett — "I know what you have 
done, but you must now excel yourself" — is a sample of his earnest 
and headlong instructions. Of General Couch at Harrisburg he 
inquired: "Do you need more staff officers?" So he went over 
the field and then, during the ensuing four days and nights, 
tramped back and forth among the tables of his expert telegraphers 
in intense excitement, watching the progress of events and sending 
and answering telegrams. He did not leave the office and had only 
a few moments of rest on the old hair-cloth lounge in his room. 
All this time, too, he was cheering and advising the frightened 
governors of the border States and strained with anxiety for Grant, 
who was grimly hammering the tremendous fortifications about 

Unquestionably he had expected not only that Meade would 
win, but that Lee would be captured and his army annihilated. He 
sent word privately by General J. A, Hardie, who bore the order 
suspending Hooker and appointing Meade, that "whoever captures 
Lee will be president," and suggested : "Tell Meade he can whip 
Lee and starve him," knowing that the insurgents were not 
equipped for a long fight, and considering that Meade was a Penn- 
sylvanian, fighting on his native soil. 

On the evening of July 3, after two days of insurgent charging 
unexcelled for intrepidity and persistence, Lee was whipped. His 
horses were without forage, his heavy ammunition was exhausted, 
some of his men were without rations, his dead were rotting in the 
sun, his wounded were suffering, his army was demoralized, and he 
himself discouraged. 

Now was the time for Meade to strike the blow supreme, to 
fulfil the instructions of Stanton, who was so perfectly sure that it 
would be done that he could hardly restrain his exuberance. But 
next morning, while attending to his wounded and burying his dead, 
General Lee organized the main body of his broken and dispirited 
army for a retreat, and, with absolutely no interference from 

Gen. Lorenzo Thomas. 
Adjutant- General. 

Judge Joseph Holt, 
Judge Advocate General. 


Meade, withdrew to the Potomac ! At this moment General Haupt, 
a class-mate of Meade's at West Point, and an engineer who knew 
every foot of ground in the vicinity, appeared at headquarters and 
urged immediate pursuit. Meade answered that his men "needed 
rest," to which Haupt retorted : "They cannot be so tired as the 
enemy. They are fresh, they have been fighting behind stone walls, 
they are not foot-sore, and they have an abundance of provisions. 
I will have the rail and telegraph lines open in the morning to 
Baltimore, Washington, and elsewhere, so there will be no lack of 
transportation, and you must pursue Lee and crush him. This is 
the critical moment of the war. Lee's men are worn out and 
hungry; his ammunition and stores must be exhausted and his 
supply trains can be easily cut off. He is in desperate straits, like 
a rat in a trap, and you can whip and capture him." 

Thus Haupt argued and pleaded, but without avail. His old 
class-mate was afraid to make an offensive march against Lee, the 
fearful, bloody contest just closed having been defensive on his 
part. Convinced that he had measured the situation correctly, 
Haupt mounted an engine and rushed to Washington as fast as 
steam could carry him to confer with Secretary Stanton and Gen- 
eral-in-Chief Halleck. The former was dumbfounded by the 
information brought to him and requested Haupt to go with Hal- 
leck to Lincoln while he himself "talked" with Meade by telegraph. 
What he said to Meade was purposely left unrecorded, but an hour 
later he walked rapidly to the White House, where he found the 
conference between Lincoln, Halleck, and Haupt about concluded. 
Lincoln inquired : 

"What shall we do with your man Meade, Mr. Secretary?" 

"Tell him," said Stanton to Haupt, "that Lee is trapped and 
must be taken," and then, turning to Lincoln, added : "He can be 
removed as easily as he was appointed, if he makes no proper effort 
to end this war now, while he has Lee in a trap." 

After some further talk Haupt returned to Gettysburg. What 
he communicated to Meade is not recorded, but before he arrived, 
Stanton, Halleck, and Lincoln* had anticipated his message with 

*Lincoln telegraphed to Meade that he saw "a purpose to get the enemy 
across the river (Potomac] without a further collision" instead of a "pur- 
pose to prevent his crossing and to destroy him." To General Thomas he 
telegraphed that Meade was "as likely to catch the man in the moon" as 
the enemy "unless the army moved faster," and to Simon Cameron that 


some very urgent and significant telegrams for an immediate 

Colonel S. G. Lynch, private secretary to the Superintendent of 
the Military Telegraph, says the most decisive of Stanton's tele- 
grams to Meade and the replies thereto were "talked" over the 
lines, "the Secretary desiring to avoid making a harsh vs^ritten 
record against his General." Their character may be inferred from 
this to Brigadier-General Kelly on July 4, sent some hours before 
he had been aroused by Haupt's disclosures : 

I regret to hear you talk about "some days" to concentrate when min- 
utes are precious. * * * Rapid and vigorous motion will enable 
you to inflict a heavy blow upon the enemy. It will be a matter of deep re- 
gret, if, by tardy movement, you let the chance escape. There must be no 
rest night or day. 

His disappointment was inexpressible. He had exhausted the 
loyal States and the Government to give Meade every item of 
support that possibly could be needed. He expected the instru- 
mentalities thus provided would be used to the utmost, knowing 
that if they were so employed Lee could not get away and the 
Rebellion would be permanently crippled. He declared that "since 
the world began, no man ever lost so great an opportunity to serve 
his country as Meade lost by neglecting to strike his adversary at 

Lee was permitted to escape over the Potomac, only thirty 
miles distant, although he did not cross until the 14th, owing to 
high water ; Meade offered his resignation (which was not ac- 
cepted) in consequence of the telegrams sent to him from Wash- 
ington which he did not obey, and the Rebellion continued nearly 
two years longer. 

"Meade, Couch, Smith, and all, since the battle of Gettysburg, had striven 
only to get Lee over the river without a further fight." 


On the night of September 22, 1863, Stanton received a confi- 
dential telegram from Assistant-Secretary C. A. Dana, at the front, 
giving an accurate account of the Army of the Cumberland, under 
General W. S. Rosecrans, just defeated at Chickamauga. Horses 
were without forage and dying by the thousand, and soldiers were 
on half-rations and without fuel. A few (General Garfield said ten) 
days would starve out the army and give the Confederates control 
of the western gateway between the North and South — an immeas- 
urable disaster. 

Stanton knew that reinforcements could not come from General 
Sherman, and that General Banks had all he could do to save his 
own army. The Army of the Cumberland could be saved, if at all, 
only by forces from the Potomac. He came to a decision at once 
and sent orderlies scurrying through the District to summon Lin- 
coln (from the Soldiers' Home), General-in-Chief Halleck, and the 
cabinet officers to a conference in the War Department. Nearly 
all were in bed, but they arose hurriedly in response to Stanton's 
imperative and unceremonious summons : "The Secretary of War 
wants to see you at once at the Department." 

Stanton read the telegrams from Dana disclosing that without 
heroic measures fearful disasters were in store, but no one sug- 
gested a remedy. He then said he proposed to send twenty 
thousand veteran troops from the Army of the Potomac over the 
mountains to Chattanooga, and thought it could be accomplished 
in five days. Lincoln exclaimed : "I'll bet you can't even get them 
to Washington in five days," and General Halleck declared that the 
proposed transfer "could not be made in less than forty days." 

The entire cabinet* sided with Lincoln and Halleck, but after 
reading Garfield's telegram saying the army would be starved in 

♦Chase, in his diary, says that finally himself and Seward joined Stan- 


ten days, Stanton insisted that the rescue was imperative, that the 
movement could be made, and, furthermore, that he intended to 
make it. 

General D. C. McCallum, but lately appointed director of Mili- 
tary Railroads, who had been sent for during the discussion, now 
arrived. He had been "posted" by General T. T. Eckert as to 
what was going on, says W. H. Whiton, his chief clerk, and was 
ready with a reply. The proposition was stated by Lincoln, and 
then Stanton inquired : 

"If you have supreme authority and abundant transportation, 
how quickly can you make the transfer?" 

"1 can complete it in seven days," answered McCallum. 

"Good! I told you so! I knew it could be done. Forty days! 
Forty days indeed, when the life of the nation is at stake !" 
exclaimed Stanton, turning scornfully toward Halleck, and added 
to McCallum : "Go ahead ; begin now." 

Major A. E. H. Johnson, in charge of the telegraph records, 
was present, and describes what followed: 

"Mr. Secretary," said Lincoln, "I have not yet given my consent." With 
a quick burst of impassioned eloquence so natural to him, Mr. Stanton de- 
clared that the Army of the Cumberland would be destroyed, never to be 
replaced; that Chattanooga would be lost, and that probably Burnside's 
whole army would be lost. Then, referring to Washington, he declared 
that it would be safe. On that night, as on many an occasion before, 
his great powers as war minister were exercised in a spirit that over- 
ruled the President, for in matters of determination and will he was aggres- 
sively superior to all the cabinet, including the President. 

Having thus conquered opposition and sent an orderly with 
Lincoln back to the Soldiers' Home, he did not retire, but began 
setting the machinery of his thrilling plan of rescue in motion. 
While waiting for the messengers to bring Lincoln and the cabinet 
members, he had telegraphed to John W. Garrett, Thomas A. 
Scott, and S. M. Felton, the railway managers, to come to Wash- 
ington as soon as possible, and asked for essential information 
from the several railway superintendents south of the Ohio River, 
this being a sample: 

September 23, 1863, 11:20 P. M. 
Brigadier-General Boyle, Louisville: 

Please ascertain and report to me immediately: 

1. How many men can be transported by employing the entire rQllingr 


stock of the road from Louisville to Nashville, enumerating the cars of every 
description that could be employed? 

2. How many hours are usually required to make the trip from Louis- 
ville to Nashville, and at what rate of speed? 

3. Is the road from Nashville to Chattanooga the same gauge as the 
road from Louisville to Nashville, so that cars can go directly from Louis- 
ville to Chattanooga, and what time is required from Nashville to Chat- 

4. If the gauge of the roads is different, what is the supply of rolling 
stock on the Nashville and Chattanooga road? 

At 3:30 A. M., September 24, Stanton telegraphed to 
Charles A. Dana: "We have arranged to send fifteen thousand 
[twenty-three thousand] infantry under Hooker, and will have 
them in Nashville in five or six days, with orders to go immediately 
to wherever Rosecrans wants them." A few minutes later he 
ordered Hooker by wire to seize and use all the railways he might 
need and to command all the "officers thereof" to help and obey. 

At breakfast time President Garrett arrived in the War Office, 
followed before noon by T. A. Scott and S. M. Felton, from whom 
the amount of rolling stock instantly available was learned. Stan- 
ton had not yet slept nor eaten, and Townsend, the adjutant-gen- 
eral, was trotting about with a half-eaten sandwich in one hand and 
a bundle of Stanton's orders to be sent "immediately" in the other. 

In the meantime McCallum, with supreme written authority 
over the entire enterprise, had set out for Virginia, leaving W. H. 
Whiton, his chief clerk and assistant, in charge. In the Whiton 
manuscript occurs this passage: 

Oh, it was an eventful night! While in the quiet hours the nation slum- 
bered, its great War Secretary inaugurated and put in motion a mighty 
movement to save its army and perchance its life. All night he toiled and 
planned and directed — no rest for his exhausted brain, no sleep for his 
weary eyes. 

Morning came and we were electrified by a despatch saying the first 
train-load of troops had left Washington — troops that at midnight were 
asleep in their tents miles away! 

Every half-hour a fresh train was started, and, once in motion, was not 
stopped or delayed except for wood and water. At all wood and water 
stations relays of men from the commissary department supplied coffee and 
cooked rations abundantly to the soldiers. No one was allowed to leave 
the cars. Food and drink were swallowed as the trains moved and the 
boys were satisfied. 

Train despatchers and station agents along the lines were made cap- 
tains by telegrams from Stanton, with orders to arrest any soldier leaving 


the trains or any person interfering with their movements, and thus our 
military czar rushed his troops to the rescue. 

Having learned, in response to his inquiries, where the gauges 
of the several roads changed, Stanton telegraphed to Amasa Stone 
of Cleveland, to "go at once and take possession of the roads south 
of the Ohio River and provide for more rolling stock. Call upon 
every railroad and manufacturing company for its instant aid for 
that purpose and I will also issue telegraphic reports to such as I 
can get knowledge of." Stone could not go instantly, so T. A. 
Scott was despatched in his place and performed the task with 
consummate ability. 

At 9 :10 P. M. of September 25, the eleventh army corps had 
fully embarked at Manassas, Virginia, and the next morning 
Hooker telegraphed to Rosecrans: "I leave with forty rounds for 
men ; twenty rounds for artillery ; sixteen thousand infan- 
try and nine batteries. Be ready with supplies, orders, etc., for 
one thousand one hundred horses and twenty-three thousand men." 

A similar telegram came to Stanton, who then, for the first 
time in three days, sought rest. Tying a handkerchief wet with 
cologne about his head, he stretched out on the office couch to 
sleep. He had won by causing the military and railroad worlds to 
jump and spin as they never before spun and jumped, and was 
entitled to a moment of respite. 

The great caravan six miles in length whirled over the Alle- 
ghanies without accident, save that a few soldiers riding on the 
outside of the cars were frozen to death by the swift motion of the 
trains through the cold atmosphere of the mountain summits ; and 
there was a momentary delay to the first trains while T. A. Scott 
(who by Stanton's order impressed eight thousand negroes to 
change the gauge of the Louisville and Lexington Railroad) was 
throwing in a short connecting link to the Frankfort railroad. 

Another interesting statement occurs in the Whiton manu- 
scripts, as follows : 

Mr. Stanton watched the progress of the troop trains with anxiety. Re- 
ports of each train as it passed given points were telegraphed, so that he 
was kept fully informed. 

The first train arrived at Jefifersonville, on the Ohio River opposite 
Louisville, at about 1 o'clock at night. The soldiers marched at once 
aboard a steamer in waiting, where a hot, full meal was ready for them. 

They ate as they crossed the stream and, on reaching shore, fell in at 

Henry L. Dawes, M. C. 

Judge David K.Cartter. 


double quick for the railway station. In one hour and three-quarters their 
train pulled out for Nashville, Tenn. 

We now were positive that the entire transfer would be complete within 
the seven days promised by McCallum. Secretary Stanton, for the first time 
since the movement began, had gone to his home. General Eckert and 
myself talked the matter over and decided to give him our latest informa- 
tion and walked together to his house for that purpose. It was 4 o'clock 
when we rang the bell. Although he had been asleep but a short time, the 
news was so gratifying that he arose and returned with us to the Depart- 
ment, where report followed report of arriving trains. 

The expedition having safely arrived, Stanton, accompanied 
by General Anson Stager, left on a special train for Louisville by 
way of Indianapolis to create the Department of the Mississippi 
and place Grant in command of it. Having done this, he tele- 
graphed to Assistant-Secretary P. H. Watson from Louisville : 

General Grant reached Nashville safely yesterday. * * * 
Generals Garfield and Steedman are here on their way home. Their rep- 
resentation of the incidents of the battle of Chickamauga more than con- 
firms the worst that has reached us from other sources as to the conduct 
of the commanding general* [Rosecrans] and the great credit that is due 
to General Thomas. 

I expect to leave for home to-morrow, having completed all arrange- 
ments in regard to railroad management and transportation, I will not 
make as quick timet returning as I did coming here. 

Thus the Army of the Cumberland was saved ; the rout at 
Chickamauga turned to victory ; the Confederate power of the 
West permanently broken and Sherman's destructive march to the 
sea made possible ! 

*It would be unjust to infer from Stanton's blunt telegram that Rose- 
crans was cowardly or recalcitrant, for he was not. He was a good fighter, 
"but," says Colonel Robert F. Hunter of Washington, D. C, a graduate of 
West Point and one of Rosecrans' close personal friends, "Rosey occa- 
sionally tippled and of course sometimes at an exceedingly inopportune 
moment. That, unfortunately, was the case at Chickamauga." 

fThe run from Washington to Indianapolis was made at the highest at- 
tainable rate of speed. In Ohio, when the train held up for water and fuel, 
Stanton alighted and asked the engineer how he was getting on. The reply 
was: "Great God! You'll get through alive if I do." 



Stanton was not popular with newspapers. He never sought 
their favor and, as secretary, held them strictly within what he 
believed to be the limits of national safety. In his order of Febru- 
ary 26, 1862, he decreed : 

All newspapers publishing military news, however obtained, not author- 
ized by official authority, will be excluded thereafter from receiving infor- 
mation by telegraph and from transmitting their publications by railroad. 

Although this was modified next day by an order "permitting 
newspapers to publish past facts, leaving out all details of military 
forces, and all statements from which the number, position, and 
strength of the military forces of the United States can be in- 
ferred," the press, as a whole, was greatly exasperated. However, 
the summary imprisonment in Fort Henry of Dr. Malcolm Ives 
of the New York Herald, held reporters, editors, and publishers 
considerably in check, though much against their will. Ives forced 
his way into the War Department on the evening of February 8, 
1862, and threatened the administration with chastisement by the 
Herald (which threat that paper fully repudiated) if he should not 
be given free access to whatever information might be on file. The 
order of arrest was published as a general warning to correspond- 
ents and reporters and concluded thus : 

Newspapers are valuable organs of public intelligence and instruc- 
tion, and every proper facility will be afforded to all loyal persons to procure, 
on equal terms, information of such public facts as may be properly made 
known in times of rebellion. But no matter how useful or powerful the 
press may be, like everything else, it is subordinate to national safety. The 
fate of an army or the destiny of a nation may be imperiled by a spy in the 
garb of a newspaper agent. The nation is in conflict with treason and 
rebellion, and may be threatened by foreign foes. The lives and fortunes 
of 20,000,000 of people, and the peace and happiness of their posterity in the 
loyal States, the fate of public liberty and of republican government, are 


staked on the instant issue. The duties of the President, his secretary, of 
every officer of the Government, and especially in the War Department and 
military service, are at this moment urgent and solemn duties — the most ur- 
gent and solemn that ever fell upon man. 

No news-gatherer or any other person for sordid or treasonable pur- 
poses can be suffered to intrude upon them at such a time to procure news 
by threats or spy out official acts which the safety of the nation requires shall 
not be disclosed. For these reasons the aforesaid Ives has been arrested 
and imprisoned, and all other persons so offending will be dealt with in 
like manner. 

Nevertheless he was unable to prevent the publication of false 
reports of victory or defeat, exaggerated statements of losses in 
battle, unfounded "rumors" of prominent commanders killed, and 
sensational plans of army movements. But the faults complained 
of did not lie wiiolly with the newspapers. General Herman 
Haupt says : 

Public opinion, in and out of the army, was manufactured by the pen. 
Most commanders did not dare to be on terms of familiarity with the 
large and enterprising corps of newspaper correspondents, and General Mc- 
Dowell went so far as to station a guard about the telegraph instruments so 
the reporters could not intercept telegrams. But McClellan made a point of 
being friendly and condescending to them and frequently invited them to 
dine with him. Thus, while he was falsely puffed and written up as the 
"Little Napoleon," the "Savior of the Country" and all that, the other 
commanders. Secretary Stanton especially, were written down, maligned, 
and misrepresented on every possible occasion. 

William H. Russell of the London Times, who was expelled by 
Stanton from McClellan's command for sending out army secrets 
and false news, was one of McClellan's particular friends, and 
received his "news" personally from the "Little Napoleon." 

Other commanders were friendly with reporters. On April 30, 
1863, Stanton wrote to General Hooker at Falmouth, Virginia : 

You must protect yourself by rigid means against the newspaper re- 
porters in your army, and the Department will support any measure you 
may take. Unless some one shall be punished you may suffer great in- 
jury. * * * * Exaggerated reports have been sent by mail to 
the Times and Herald, but nothing has been allowed to go by telegraph. 

Again on May 2 he telegraphed to Hooker : 

We cannot control intelligence in relation to army movements while 
your own generals are writing letters giving details. A letter from Gen- 


eral Van Alen to a person not connected with the War Department fully de- 
scribes your position and entrenchments at Chancellorsville. Can't you 
give his sword something to do so he will have less time for the pen? 

Stanton telegraphed to General Meade that reporters were 
securing news from his headquarters through his chief-of-stafif, who 
should be suppressed or removed; and when Meade wrote a letter 
to Senator Reverdy Johnson concerning the battle of Gettysburg, 
he was called to account with severity, Stanton asking him for his 
authority for such a letter and reminding him of prior suggestions 
that all communications concerning the war must be sent through 
the War Department only. 

In December, 1864, Grant wrote to him concerning coopera- 
tion of the navy in an attempt to reduce Wilmington, North Caro- 
lina, saying he himself would not correspond with that Depart- 
ment. Stanton answered: "You can count on no secrecy in the 
navy. Newspaper reporters have the run of that Department." 

Grant cooperated eilfectively in preventing military secrets 
from reaching the newspapers, all telegraphic communication with 
army headquarters except on Government business being abso- 
lutely prohibited by Stanton's order. In November, 1864, Grant 
asked Stanton to exclude certain newspapers containing army 
secrets from Southern circulation, calling attention to a publication 
in the New York Time's of Sherman's plans. On November 11, 
1864, at 10 P. M., Stanton replied : 

I have seen with indignation the newspaper articles referred to and 
others of like kind, but they come from Sherman's army and generally from 
his own officers, and there is reason to believe he has not been very 
guarded in his own talk. I saw to-day, in a paymaster's letter to another 
officer, his plans as stated by himself. Yesterday I received full details 
given by a member of his stafif to a friend in Washington. Matters not 
spoken of aloud in the Department are bruited by officers from Sherman's 
army in every Western printing-office and street. If he cannot keep from 
revealing his plans to his paymaster, and his staff send them broadcast 
over the land, I cannot prevent their publication. 

Papers like the Chicago Times, New York News, and many 
others of lesser calibre* were suppressed, sometimes for long 

*John D. Kees of the Ohio Watchman, who was immured in the Old 
Capitol Prison on Stanton's order for publishing articles against enlist- 
ment, sued, on being released, for $30,000 damages for false imprisonment, 
but was defeated, as was every other editor of this class who resisted. 


periods, and all War Department subordinates were prohibited 
from giving information even of a personal nature to reporters ana 
correspondents. Stanton had no faith in officers who consorted 
freely with and toadied to newspapers, and understood fully the 
undeserved unpopularity the angry press was creating for himself. 
In the letter to Dr. Heman Dyer of New York, dated May 18, 1862, 
but not discovered until after its author had been dead twenty 
years, he thus referred to the almost universal enmity of the press: 

If I wanted to be a politician or candidate for any office, would I stand 
against the whole newspaper gang in the country, of every part, who, to 
sell news, would imperil a battle? 

I was never taken for a fool, but there could be no greater madness 
than for a man to encounter what I do for anything less than motives 
that overleap time and look forward to eternity. 

He referred to the matter at other times, as his private letters 
show, but during his lifetime the public never knew what he 
thought or how he felt about the attitude of the newspapers. On 
July 30, 1862, he closed a letter to General J. K. Moorhead of Pitts- 
burg, thus : "I will only add that the dogs that have been yelping 
at my heels, finding how useless it is, appear to be giving up the 
hunt and contenting themselves with an occasional snarl." 

On May 22, 1863, he wrote to Assistant-Secretary P. H. 
Watson : 

I received the enclosed impertinent note from Gay of the Tribune. Of 
course I shall not answer it, but it might be well, if you have the leisure, 
to call and see Mr. Greeley and explain the facts in regard to Hill. 

As to Gay's* impertinent inquiry in respect to privileges, you can say 
that all have equal rights. But neither rights nor privileges can be allowed 
to one who violates rules of the Department for altering or publishing 
official business. 

On November 19, 1864, he wrote to S. P. Chase : 

Your experience has taught you that newspaper reports are lies, in- 
vented by knaves for fools to feed on. This is especially true in respect of 
cabinet changes and the chief-justiceship. Changes in the cabinet will of 
course take place, but they will be made in time and manner that no one will 
be looking for. 

In regard to the chief-justiceship, I learn from outside sources that 

*Gay was manager and A. S. Hill Washington correspondent of the 
New York Tribune. 


Swayne is the most active and Blair the most confident of the candidates. 
My belief is that you will be offered the appointment, if it has not already 
been done. 

"No newspaper reporter ever came to Mr. Stanton or to any 
officer of the War Department for news," says Major A. E. H. 
Johnson. "He held all officials to a rule of strict non-intercourse 
with reporters and correspondents. Of all the branches of Gov- 
ernment, the War Department was the last resort of reporters. For 
this the newspapers reveled in denunciation and abuse of Mr. Stan- 
ton. But if ever a tyrant was right, it was the great War Secretary, 
and his persistent and unrelenting tyranny was the colossal factor 
that made this nation what it now is." 

Stanton's notion that unbridled freedom to all grades of news- 
papers is dangerous, in time of rebellion, received frequent confirma- 
tion. On the morning of May 18, 1864, the World and the Journal 
of Commerce of New York contained what purported to be a procla- 
mation by President Lincoln setting aside the 26th of the month as 
a "day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer," and calling for four 
hundred thousand more troops to be furnished before June 15, 
following, or raised by a "peremptory draft." The document, 
although subsequently proven to be spurious, was in Lincoln's 
style, and created excitement akin to panic in New York City, The 
substance of it was telegraphed to Stanton, who instantly ordered 
General Dix (commanding at New York) to seize and close the 
offices and arrest the editors of the newspapers publishing the 
proclamation and seize the offices of the telegraph line which was 
supposed to have transmitted the forgery from Washington to 
New York. 

Having telegraphed this order "confidentially" to Dix, Stanton 
proceeded to the White House and asked Lincoln to issue a 
proclamation authorizing what he himself had already directed to 
be done. Dix acted decisively, closing the several offices men- 
tioned and arresting editors, managers, telegraph operators, and 
other employes as rapidly as they could be apprehended. On the 
20th he arrested Joseph Howard, formerly private secretary to 
Henry Ward Beecher, who confessed authorship of the forgery and 
was sent to Fort Lafayette. In his confession Howard exonerated 
the editors of the offending papers, which fact was reported to 
Stanton, who replied by telegraph to Dix: 


Your telegram respecting the arrest of Howard has been received and 
submitted to the President. He directs me to say that while, in his opinion, 
the editors, proprietors, and publishers of the World and the Journal of Com- 
merce are responsible for whatever appears in their papers injurious to the 
public service, and have no right to shield themselves behind a plea of 
ignorance or want of criminal intent, he is not disposed to visit them with 
vindictive punishment; and, hoping they will exercise more caution and 
regard for the public welfare in the future, he authorizes you to restore to 
them their respective establishments. 

On the 23d the newspapers involved v^^ere allowed to resume 
publication as usual. The decisive steps Stanton had taken against 
them, however, were denounced without measure by the press, and 
Governor Seymour wanted the grand jury of New York to investi- 
gate the matter, declaring that the author of the "illegal" seizure 
must be punished ! 

Stanton cared nothing for that. He well knew the necessities 
of the situation. Hoaxing had been, to a considerable extent during 
the war, a newspaper fad. A forged report purporting to have been 
made by the Confederate Secretary of the Navy had led Secretary 
Seward to open correspondence with Great Britain, and a series of 
spurious letters over the name of Jefiferson Davis had created 
considerable official disturbance in another direction. Therefore, 
when Stanton found his own Department entangled in a forgery 
and could lay his hand upon the perpetrator, he determined to 
strike a deathblow to the entire business and did so with such 
swiftness that the offense was not repeated. 

His desperate devotion to duty is illustrated anew by an inci- 
dent connected with this forgery. When he forwarded the first 
instructions from Washington, Dix replied that he was "investi- 
gating the gross fraud of this morning," not meaning, however, 
that there would be any hesitation in obeying orders. Stanton 
answered : "Your telegram is just received. A great national 
crime has been committed by the publication. The editors, pro- 
prietors, and publishers, responsible and irresponsible, are in law 
guilty of that crime. You were not directed to make an investiga- 
tion but to execute the President's orders. * * * How you 
can excuse or justify delay in executing the President's order until 
you make an investigation is not for me to determine." 

Dix, hardly less stern and impartial than Stanton, fully appre- 
ciated the aggressive patriotism of his superior and relished rather 
than resented the not infrequent rebukes, like the foregoing, which 


reached him, for he knew they were intended to benefit his country. 

Previous to the forgery just described, Stanton conceived and 
had begun to put forth a "war diary" as an effective means of 
destroying the power of conscienceless newspapers and corres- 
pondents. Although already worn nearly to prostration by the 
multiplicity and weight of his burdens, he undertook the new duty 
of summarizing each day's military events and movements 
throughout the country and giving that summary over his own 
signature to the press before retiring for the night. These bulle- 
tins or gazettes, dated variously between 8 P. M. and 2 A. 
M., are models of compactness, completeness, and clearness. The 
marches, sorties, battles, losses, captures, conditions, and achieve- 
ments of every command in the army were set forth with forceful 
brevity, so that each morning the eager masses were treated to a 
vivid panorama of the vast field of national strife that, but an hour 
before, had been painted and signed by the chief artist, the Secretary 
of War himself. Frequently these descriptions were of consider- 
able length and eloquence. When he was returning by sea on the 
Spalding from a visit to General Sherman at Savannah, he received 
on board ship from General Terry, on Tuesday, January 16, 1865, 
the Confederate flag just taken from Fort Fisher, at the mouth of 
Cape Fear River. From the officers and men who participated in 
that desperate and bloody assault, nearly all of whom he pro- 
moted on the spot, he obtained the facts just as they were, and 
rapidly composed and sent to the people, though directed to the 
President, a telegram a column in length which caused the national 
heart to thrill and rejoice — for Fort Fisher had been an effective 
protection to Wilmington, the only seaport through which foreign 
goods reached the insurgents. 

Gazettes like this came to the people as verities, supplanting 
all forms of newspaper and other unofficial information. Although 
the "war diary" did not drive "war correspondents" out of busi- 
ness, it entirely suppressed fabricators of sensational rumors and 
peddlers of false reports, and wiped out the power of hostile and 
9t/a.!rj-disloyal papers to weaken the Government effort or harass 
the administration. 

This "diary" continued until the war closed and Lincoln's 
assassins were in captivity, and is a unique feature of military 
administration. The bulletins, although addressed ostensibly to 
General John A. Dix, in New Ygrk, werq in fact giyen directly to 


the associated press operators by Stanton himself and accom- 
plished more in the way of unifying and inspiring the people, re- 
electing Lincoln, destroying the news fakir, and hastening the 
end of hostilities than any other instrumentality of similar charac- 
ter. They were ofificial, signed by Stanton as secretary of war ; but, 
during the six years of his incumbency, he did not otherwise 
address the public — submitted to no interview, answered no 
attack,* prepared no magazine articles, made no defense, wrote no 
book, and held his subordinates rigidly to the same line of decorous 
military conduct. But times have changed. The number of books, 
pamphlets, magazine and newspaper articles produced by the par- 
ticipants in the recent Spanish-American war far exceeds the 
aggregate casualties on both sides of the conflict ! 

♦There are two exceptions to this statement — when he published a 
denial in the New York Tribune of responsibility for the victory at Fort 
Donelson and when, on May 12, 1865, he ordered Edwards Pierrepont to 
prosecute Horace Greeley for suggesting a vacancy in the office of secre- 
tary of war: 

"I have written to-night to retain you. Cutting, and Brad}^ or any one 
else you may desire to have associated with you, to prosecute Horace 
Greeley and the owners of the Tribune for Greeley's persistent effort the 
last four weeks to incite assassins to finish their work by murdering me. 
Please give the matter your immediate attention on receiving the letter and 
secure copies of all Tribunes published since the night of the President's 
murder; also the names of the owners. I propose to prosecute criminally 
and by civil suit. I shall not allow them to have me murdered and escape 
responsibility without a struggle for life on my part." 

A few days later Stanton furnished proof of malice on the part of 
Greeley, but the proposed suit was never brought nor was the public 
aware that it had been contemplated. 


When he became Secretary Cameron's legal adviser, after the 
bombardment of Fort Sumter, Stanton urged the necessity of 
acquiring control of all telegraph lines in the country, and retain- 
ing it to the end of hostilities. He had been a director in and 
attorney for the old Atlantic and Ohio Telegraph Company and 
engaged for years in the litigation between S. F. B. Morse and the 
telegraph companies, which gave him a full understanding of the 
vast possibilities of telegraphy as an instrument of national defense. 
Cameron made an attempt to follow his advice, but interference by 
the State Department rendered it ineffective. In August, 1861, 
General McClellan, who had just reached Washington, approved a 
censorship which was handed over to the State Department to be 
managed by an "instrument-maker" from Philadelphia. This 
arrangement continued until Stanton swept the management of all 
the telegraph offices and lines in the United States into the War 
Department by the order of February 26, 1862. 

On March 2, having appointed E. S. Sanford supervisor and 
Anson Stager superintendent, he concentrated the control of the 
telegraphic machinery of the nation next to his own rooms. There- 
tofore the telegraph bureau had been managed by General 
McClellan, and he never forgave Stanton for what he termed "his 
humiliation."* The change thus wrought was magical. By a 
single stroke the supply of inside Federal news was cut from the 
Richmond papers ; army officers and high functionaries were pre- 
vented from using the lines for Wall Street speculations, and spies 

♦"There was consternation in McClellan's headquarters," says John 
Francis Coyle, editor of the National Intelligencer, "when Secretary Stanton 
removed the telegraph outfit. Little Mac's rooms were free and the tele- 
graph lines free. Everybody used them and there were no secrets. It was 
common to see fifty miscellaneous persons about the headquarters, includ- 
ing women and reporters, and everybody knows what that meant. It was 
pll very exasperating to Mr, Stanton," 


were excluded from the telegraph records. 

Energy, concentration, and ceaseless espionage now assumed 
charge, making what William Bender Wilson of Philadelphia, a 
distinguished authority,* says "became the most wonderfully accu- 
rate, reliable, and intelligent system in the world." Men of loyalty 
and executive ability, in whom Stanton had implicit confidence, 
were placed in command, inventing and using a cipher code which 
the Confederates were never able to unlock, and which the opera- 
tors and translators never betrayed. 

"The first cipher code," says Albert B. Chandler, president of 
the Postal Telegraph Cable Company, "was a meagre afifair ar- 
ranged by General Anson Stager and printed on a card. The 
additions and improvements which made' the code perfect and 
brought it finally to book form, were the work of the chief cipher 
operators of the Department" — Albert B. Chandler, General T. 
T. Eckert, C. A. Tinker, and D. Homer Bates. 

The War Office was placed in direct communication with every 
arsenal, general, military depot, military prison, barracks, ren- 
dezvous, camp, and fort in the Union and, by Stanton's order, 
every message to, from, and between them passed through the 
Department and was therein deciphered and a recorded duplicate 
placed upon his desk. 

Even Lincoln was deprived of the use of a special code and 
sent and received messages through the common channel. A deep 
box was provided in the operating room into which copies of all 
messages for him or which he ought to see, were dropped. "He 
came over from the White House several times a day," says Major 
A. E. H. Johnson, who had charge of the telegraph records, "and, 
thrusting his long arm down among the messages, fished them out 
one by one and read them. When he had secured the last one he 
invariably made some characteristic remark — generally something 
that caused laughter — and then proceeded to consult with Secre- 
tary Stanton." 

As far as possible, at the outset, Government business was 

*Says Mr. Wilson: "On April 17, 1861, I went with Thomas A. Scott 
to Governor Curtin's office at Harrisburg, and there, with a relay magnet 
and a key placed on a window sill, opened the first Military Telegraph 
office on this continent." A day or two later Mr. Scott took D. Homer 
Bates, David Strouse, Samuel M. Brown, and Richard O'Brien from the 
Pennsylvania line to establish the first Military Telegraph at Washington, 


done over existing telegraph lines ; but, when necessary, new lines 
were strung throughout the Union either to reach camps or battle- 
fields, or as loops between disconnected commercial systems.* The 
telegraph office of the War Department was kept open night and 
day and "during distressing periods," says L. A. Somers of Cleve- 
land, who had charge of a corps of Department operators, "Mr. 
Stanton slept in the building in order to be ready instantly to 
attend to important messages. The ordinary operators did not 
have a key to the code, nor did Mr. Stanton ; therefore. General 
Anson Stager, General T. T. Eckert, or Colonel S. G. Lynch also 
slept in the building for a time so there should be no delay in 
translating information coming in late at night." 

The method of arranging and preserving the telegraphic his- 
tory of the war is thus described by the trusted clerk who did it — 
Major A. E. H. Johnson: 

Every message in any way relating to the army and navy, sent or 
received, was copied and furnished to me on letter sheet paper direct from 
the telegraph office, which was in the room adjoining the Secretary's. Car- 
bon copies on yellow tissue paper were furnished to the Secretary. These 
letter sheet telegrams I put in large file books which I kept in chests under 
lock, each chest containing about ten volumes. The carbon copies I kept 
in little wooden spring clothespins — used as clips — and which I lettered 
for each day of the week, including Sunday, for we had no rest. 

Mr. Stanton's instructions were to let no person see the telegrams, and 
I once refused the President. He never gave me an opportunity afterwards 
to repeat the refusal, but made no sign of displeasure. The telegraph 
operators were under the same injunction, and although the President 
frequently went into the telegraph office to send telegrams, the operators 
would not show him the telegrams coming from the armies, until later dur- 
ing the war, when the rule was relaxed and a box for his use was provided. 

The messages sent by the Secretary are mostly in his own hand- 
writing, and for many a day they show a labor in writing probably greater 
than that of any clerk in his office. 

Stanton's method of controlling the telegraph lines was 
peculiarly autocratic and independent. His men were never en- 
listed, mustered, or commissioned, nor permitted, although 

*"The boys constructed and operated within the lines of the army 15,389 
miles of telegraph and transmitted over 6,000,000 military messages. Amidst 
the fiercest roar of conflict they were found coolly advising the commanding 
general of the battle's progress. Their ages ranged from 16 to 22 years — 
boys in years but giants in loyalty and in the work they performed for 
their country," says William Bender Wilson. 


thousands of miles distant following armies and reporting battles 
in the field, to become attached to any military command. By 
retaining this little army as a part of his own personal and con- 
fidential staff, instead of permitting its members to be subjected to 
the varying and conflicting orders of the numerous commanders, 
he insured the safety of his cipher code and the control of the 
armies, and rendered betrayal impossible. Not a confidential oper- 
ator or cipher translator ever flunked, leaked, or violated his sacred 
trust.* They detected many insurgent movements, and the skill 
of D. Homer Bates, A. B. Chandler, and C. A. Tinker prevented the 
capture as planned of several ocean steamships sailing out of New 
York and also discovered the engravers of Confederate bonds in 
New York City and insured their apprehension, together with plates 
and money. 

Stanton's rigorous orders, however, sometimes rendered the 
positions of his operators very trying. At one time General Grant 
w^as induced to test Stanton's control and appointed Colonel John 
Riggin, one of his aides, to be superintendent of telegraph lines in 
his Department. Riggin sent requisitions for supplies and issued 
orders to the operators. The operator at Grant's headquarters 
reported the facts to Stanton, whereupon Riggin's orders were 
countermanded and Grant was informed that General Stager was 
superintendent of the Military Telegraph and would order all sup- 

*Richard O'Brien, now of Scranton, Pa., who was one of the four 
operators selected first for the military service, was stationed at Norfolk 
as chief operator in the spring of 1863, when the Confederate Congress 
prepared to carry Jefferson Davis' proclamation into effect by providing to 
execute, when captured, the officers of African soldiers. In Norfolk cer- 
tain leading secessionists cast lots to determine who should assassinate 
the commander of the first detachment of colored troops to enter the city. 
Dr. Davis M. Wright, one of the foremost citizens, drew the red card. 
Second Lieutenant A. L. Sanborn of Massachusetts, in command of Com- 
pany B, First Regular Colored Infantry, first brought Africans under arms 
into the city and Dr. Wright shot and killed him. Wright was captured 
and on July 29 convicted of murder and sentenced to be hanged. Powerful 
appeals were made to Lincoln for clemency. Wright's intercessors were 
in Washington. The reprieve was expected by telegraph. The hour for 
the execution was drawing near, but no reprieve came. At the last moment 
Wright's friends offered O'Brien $20,000 in gold and a passage on a block- 
ade runner to Europe if he would forge a telegram from Lincoln ordering 
a release. The offer was spurned, notwithstanding the condemned man 
had a beautiful daughter for whom O'Brien felt the tenderest sympathy. 
The execution took place as appointed, 


plies and designate and discharge all operators. Grant subsided, 
but later made another test of authority, arresting the operator who 
reported his first attempt to interfere, and sent word that the 
obnoxious person must be removed forthwith. Again Colonel 
Riggin, under Grant's orders, attempted to assume control but, as 
before, his requisitions were countermanded and all the operators 
in Grant's Department resolved to resign for the purpose of show- 
ing their independence of his authority. To meet this dilemma he 
ordered that any operator resigning should be arrested and placed 
in close confinement, wherevipon Stanton instructed General-in- 
Chief Halleck to advise Grant concerning the rules and regulations 
which certainly would govern the telegraph. Grant pondered over 
these instructions for a time, finally contenting himself with send- 
ing the operator who had first reported him away under arrest, 
Stanton telegraphed the young man's release, but, to avoid further 
friction, transferred him to another station. 

In January, 1864, when he had become lieutenant-general. 
Grant again attempted to override Stanton's authority. He was 
about to go from Nashville to Knoxville and wanted Captain C. B, 
Comstock, who was to accompany him, to possess the cipher. The 
operator, Samuel H. Beckwith, refused to surrender it without 
special permission. Instead of telegraphing for that permission or 
for the special detail of an operator, which would have been granted 
instantly, Grant informed the young man that he must disobey his 
superior and deliver up the cipher or be punished, and Beckwith 
wrongfully yielded. Instantly Stanton ordered him to be dismissed 
from the service, saying he should have gone to prison rather than 
surrender the cipher. Grant was informed that the operator had 
been dismissed and that, as Comstock was not entitled to it, a new 
cipher had been ordered, which would never be communicated to 
any one without special permission. Grant saw plainly that Stan- 
ton was master of the situation and ordered Comstock to restore 
the cipher to the operator, who was also reinstated.* 

At an earlier date Grant was among the few commanders who 

*J. Emmet O'Brien of Scranton, Pennsylvania, one of the last cipher 
operators to leave the service, relates: "One of General Grant's staff 
invented a cipher w^hich he wished to supersede ours, and handed in a 
message to be sent to General Sheridan. Tinker saw that it was the sim- 
plest kind of a riddle. Deciphering it, he handed the translation to the 
inventor, which ended interference with our specialty." 


did not care to obey in full Stanton's order of November 13, 1862, to 
forward, at the end of every month, "the original of every telegram 
filed by Government officers" for transmission. The matter was 
settled by instructions to audit no bills for telegrams not accom- 
panied by the original vouchers. "This not only set General Grant 
to thinking clearly, but placed the history of the war in our vaults 
in its original form, an instance not duplicated elsewhere in the 
world and of the highest value to truth," says Quartermaster-Gen- 
eral M. C. Meigs. 

When the war ended, Stanton designated officers to take 
charge of all papers and writings in camp and field until the muster- 
out had been completed, and bring the finished rolls and documents, 
together with all available insurgent records, to the War Depart- 
ment. Without the latter order, thousands of the most important 
manuscripts and telegrams now possessed by the Government would 
have been lost. These orders illustrate the comprehensive mind 
with which Stanton looked into the future, and gave to the ages an 
authentic history of the nation's final struggle for life. As he had 
made no journal of his doings and retained few or no private 
copies of his letters, this official record of the war was a treasure 
as dear as the blood of his heart. It was the written proof which, 
in the fulness of time, was to confuse his enemies and vindicate 
his course. So, when President Johnson attempted to seize the 
War Department, Stanton determined that at least the record of 
how the Republic had been rescued should be preserved. What 
was done for its safety is best told by Major A. E. H. Johnson : 

On this telegraphic record Mr. Stanton depended for vindication. It 
was all he had to leave for his defense, and all he had to show how he was 
sustained by President Lincoln. Not willing to trust this history to the 
keeping of his possible successor, General Lorenzo Thomas, who had been 
appointed secretary of war ad interim by President Johnson, but which 
appointment Mr. Stanton refused to recognize, he directed me to get 
wagons that day after of^ce hours and have all the chests containing the 
telegrams put into the vault of the medical museum [the old Ford theatre, 
where President Lincoln was assassinated], retaining the key. There the 
chests were kept until after the impeachment trial of President Johnson, 
and General Schofield had been made secretary of war. Then, as General 
Sherman wanted to see them, on Mr. Stanton's order, I gave up the key 
and the chests were returned to the Department. 

If Stanton was jealous of this telegraphic history, he was proud 
of his telegraphic corps. It was, he declared to W. J. Dealy, his 


"right arm" watching and guarding his armies everywhere, night 
and day, and keeping constantly before his eyes a perfect but ever- 
changing panorama of the vast battle-field of the Union. 

After the war closed he manifested keen interest in the welfare 
of his former detachment* and, whenever he met them, gave evi- 
dence of strong personal affection. His sentiments were recipro- 
cated, and at the reunions of the United States Military Telegraph 
Corps, since his death, the members have indulged in loving re- 
membrances of him ; and at the Pittsburg reunion of 1896 pre- 
liminary steps were taken to raise funds for a monument to 
commemorate the worth and service of their "former Commander- 


War Department, 

Washington, July 31, 1866. 
War Department, 
D. H. BATES, Assistant Manager, Department of the Potomac; 
CHARLES A. TINKER, Chief Operator, War Department; 
ALBERT B. CHANDLER, Cipher and Disbursing Clerk, War De- 
A. H. CALDWELL, Chief Operator, Army of the Potomac; 
DENNIS DOREN, Superintendent of Construction, Department of the 

FRANK STEWART, Cipher Clerk, War Department; 
GEORGE W. BALDWIN, Cipher Clerk, War Department; 
RICHARD O'BRIEN, Chief Operator, Department of North Carolina; 
GEORGE D. SHELDON, Chief Operator, Fortress Monroe, Virginia; 
M. V. B. BUELL, Chief Operator, Delaware and Eastern Shore Line; 
JOHN H. EMERICK, Chief Operator, Army of the James; 

I have been instructed by the Secretary of War to present to each of you 
one of the SILVER WATCHES, which were purchased and used to estab- 
lish uniform time in the Army of the Potomac, marked "U. S. MILITARY 
TELEGRAPH," as an acknowledgment of the meritorious and valuable 
services you have rendered to the Government during the war, while under 
my direction, as an employee of the United States Military Telegraph. 

It gives me great pleasure to comply with these instructions, and I 
will take this occasion to thank you, for myself, for your faithful perform- 
ance of the important trusts which have been confided to you in the various 
capacities in which you have served, and especially as "Cipher Operators." 

Yours very truly 

Thos. T. Eckert, 
Asst. Secretary of War, and Supt. U. S. Military Telegraph. 


The Rebellion was the first great war in which military rail- 
ways played a conspicuous part, and their feats under Stanton were 
so remarkable that several European governments called for special 
reports upon them. They were operated in twelve States and 
comprised two thousand one hundred and five miles of lines west 
to Little Rock, south to Holly Springs, Decatur, and Atlanta, and 
east to Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the seaboard of 
North Carolina. They gave employment at one time to twenty-four 
thousand nine hundred and sixty-four persons, who operated four 
hundred and nineteen locomotives, six thousand three hundred and 
thirty cars, and thousands of gondolas.* Their crews built twenty- 
six miles of bridges, laid six hundred and forty-two miles of new 
track, expended forty-three million dollars in cash, and saved the 
Union arms from many a disaster. 

Stanton's fifteen years of professional experience with rail and 
water carriage made him a competent judge of the powers and 
possibilities of this great branch of human activity. On February 
11, 1862, he appointed D. C. McCallum "military director and sup- 
erintendent of railroads in the United States, with authority to 
enter upon, take possession of, hold, and use all railroads, engines, 
cars, locomotives, equipment, appendages, and appurtenances that 
may be required for the transport of troops, ammunition, and mili- 
tary supplies of the United States," accompanying the order with 
a letter saying: *T shall expect you to have on hand at all times 
the necessary men and materials to enable you to comply promptly 
with this order, and there must be no failure under any cir- 

He decided, before finally determining a policy of land car- 
riage, to call a meeting of railroad presidents and managers in 

*A11 sold or returned to original owners by Stanton's order of August 


Washington on February 20. At this gathering he made a patriotic 
address, appealing to the railroads to do their full share toward 
sustaining the country and putting down the Rebellion. He asked 
them to prepare a uniform schedule of rates for Government busi- 
ness and to be ready to respond to the sudden calls which emer- 
gencies might render necessary. His speech was significant, 
intimating that no exorbitant bills for transporting army supplies 
would be allowed, and that any attempt to hinder Government 
carriage or exact robber charges would result in the seizure of the 
offending railway; "but," he added, "the better way is for the 
railways themselves to operate in the public interest, and I expect, 
of course, they will do so." 

He also suggested a permanent organization of managers and 
the appointment of a standing committee with whom he could 
confer. The suggestion was adopted and Erastus Corning, Thomas 
L. Jewett, and Samuel M. Felton were appointed and a uniform 
rate of Government transportation, 10 per cent., under the 
schedule, was agreed to and maintained for three years. This ar- 
rangement materially improved conditions, but as none of the 
military commanders seemed equal to the task of repairing and 
managing the railroads which he was seizing, Stanton summOxicd 
Herman Haupt, a graduate of West Point and a railway builder 
and manager of the very highest ability, then constructing the 
Hoosac Tunnel. "What do you want, and how long will I be 
needed?" he inquired. Stanton replied: 

McCIellan is on the Peninsula operating against Richmond. McDowell 
has been ordered to join him by forced marches, but he cannot do so 
before the Fredericksburg railroad has been put in condition to transport 
munitions and supplies. As soon as he can cooperate with McCIellan, 
Richmond will fall and the war will end. You can return to your work on 
the Hoosac Tunnel in three or four weeks and if the war is not ended in 
three months, I shall resign. 

Haupt answered that he would undertake the task provided 
he could do so without rank or title ; be required to wear no uni- 
form ; be allowed no salary or compensation beyond his expenses, 
and be relieved whenever the exigencies of the time had been pro- 
vided for. The conditions were satisfactory, and in a few hours 
(on April 23, 1862) he was steaming down the Potomac to carry 
out instructions. 


With crews consisting of fresh details every morning of one 
hundred men each from three adjoining regiments, he rebuilt the 
Fredericksburg railroad in twenty days and with like crews aston- 
ished the world by erecting a bridge four hundred feet in length 
and ninety feet in height over Potomac Creek and crossing it with a 
locomotive in nine days, taking every timber from its stump in the 
surrounding forests. 

On May 28, Stanton, Lincoln, and other officials inspected this 
achievement, and on returning Lincoln said to the Committee on 
the Conduct of the War : "That man Haupt has built a bridge four 
hundred feet long and one hundred feet high, across Potomac 
Creek, on which loaded trains are passing every hour, and upon my 
word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but cornstalks and bean- 

The Messaponax bridge, six miles from Fredericksburg, was 
burned Monday morning and at noon Haupt and his men had 
replaced it. The Confederates exclaimed in astonishment: "The 
Yankees can build bridges faster than we can burn them." 

Stanton, on May 28, in recognition of his valuable services, 
gave to Haupt the rank of colonel and appointed him chief of con- 
struction and transportation in the Department of the Rappahan- 
nock, and on the following day issued orders making him 
independent of all authority save that of the Secretary of War. 
Being thus established as dictator, Haupt promptly raised a corps 
of his own which was commanded by commissioned and non-com- 
missioned officers and drilled and governed the same as the military 
forces. His corps constructed, tore down, managed, and operated 
railways as if he owned them. This annoyed army officers, every 
one of whom seemed determined to manage and run the railways 
in his Department to suit himself, which practise invariably re- 
sulted in confusion and disaster. At the time he assumed charge, 
one officer was giving one order and another officer was giving 
another order on different parts of the same line, so that frequently 
not a wheel was turning or an empty car available, greatly to 
Stanton's disgust and the Government's loss. 

During Pope's long and desperate fight in August, 1862. Stan- 
ton found great comfort in his railway autocrat, who acted as 
president, secretary of war, and military commander, forwarding 
supplies, issuing orders, carrying off the wounded, advising the 
War Department, telegraphing to Lincoln, and managing things 


generally with ability and success never surpassed. He sent oper- 
ators forward, who, armed with pocket instruments, passed through 
the lines of conflict and made observations and reports from tree- 
tops. "For several days the only information received at Wash- 
ington," says Haupt, "came through my office." Whenever he 
brought a person of unusual intelligence out of the heart of the 
conflict he rushed him by special locomotive to Washington for the 
purpose of enabling Stanton (who remained in the War Office every 
night) to secure an inside view of the situation, the doorkeeper 
having orders to admit Haupt's messengers "at once at any hour." 

When he returned to Washington the cabinet was in session. 
"Come in," shouted Stanton, embracing him; "you shall be a 
brigadier-general." Next day a commission as brigadier-general 
and director of all military railways in the United States was issued, 
clothing him with extraordinary powers. A special order declared 
that "no officer, whatsoever may be his rank," could interfere with 
Haupt or his men without being "dismissed from the service." 
Another order recited : "The railroads are entirely under your 
[Haupt's] control. * * * Your orders are supreme." 

These "arbitrary methods" were unavoidable, as military com- 
manders proved incapable of railway management and private com- 
panies were not always able or willing to furnish promptly the 
facilities of which the army was frequently in sudden need. When 
the army had outgrown its transportation equipment, Stanton per- 
emptorily ordered all manufacturers to turn over whatever locomo- 
tives and cars they had on hand complete or in process of construc- 
tion, and thus secured, without negotiation or delay, one hundred 
and forty new locomotives and two thousand five hundred cars. 

Cornelius Vanderbilt, of the New York and Harlem Railroad, 
attempted unsuccessfully to prevent his new locomotives from 
being thus taken from the Baldwin works. Stanton informed the 
Baldwins to proceed as ordered and he would protect them from 
harm, and telegraphed to Mr. Vanderbilt on November 20, 1863 : 

Yowr letter of the 19tli received. The engines referred to were seized 
by the order of this Department from a paramount necessity for the supply 
of the armies of the Cumberland. They are absolutely essential to the 
safety of those armies and the order cannot be revoked. Whatever dam- 
ages your company may sustain the Government is responsible for, but the 
military operations are superior to every other consideration. This is a 
case where the safety and support of an army depend upon the exercise of 
the authority of the Government and the prompt acquiescence of loyal citi- 

Gen. Herman Haupt (on the Right j anu His Locomotive. 


zens. I hope, therefore, that you will not only throw no obstacle in the 
way of forwarding the engines to Louisville, but use your well-known 
energy in aid of the Department to hurry them forward. 

Before the close of the war, Haupt returned to the Hoosac 
Tunnel and was succeeded by his assistant, Colonel D. C. Mc- 
Callum, who, with the original corps and the same autocratic 
authority from Stanton, maintained the wonderful nerve and effi- 
ciency which had been created by his predecessor. The manner 
in which he transported, under Stanton's orders, twenty-three 
thousand troops from the Army of the Potomac in Virginia over 
the mountains to Chattanooga, stands without counterpart in mili- 
tary movements. He was successful because Stanton had the 
wisdom to centralize supreme authority in him. In carrying out 
instructions in this case McCallum arrested General Carl Schurz 
and forcibly sent several high officers to the rear to remain until 
their commands were ready to leave, Stanton, without question or 
inquiry, upholding every act by telegraph. 

The Bureau of Military Railroads covered the entire field of 
military activity, and its achievements were frequently as astound- 
ing as they were decisive and valuable.* The basis of its organiza- 
tion and the method of its administration are monuments to 
Stanton's executive resources. Like the Military Telegraph, it was 
absolutely independent of all control outside of his own will, in- 
cluding even that of the President. Hardly a commander failed to 
attempt some usurpation of authority over it or put on record 
some childish complaint of "dictation" and "interference from 
Washington" — as if subalterns in the field could be greater than 
the executive heads of the nation ! 

Had not the very autocracy of which they complained been 
assumed and held by a single master-hand at Washington, thus 
unifying the purposes and synchronizing the movements of that 

♦Besides the feats mentioned, the Rappahannock bridge in Virginia, 
625 feet in length and 35 feet in height, was rebuilt in 19 working hours and 
the Chattahoochie bridge, 740 feet in length and 95 feet in altitude, in AYz 
days! Before a meeting of the British military and other engineers in 
London, General Haupt explained by request how these achievements 
were accomplished. The Englishmen were so much impressed by the 
address that a grand banquet in his honor was tendered by the royal 


vital branch of the miHtary service, tossing armies like shuttle- 
cocks here and there to checkmate the enemy, the chaos which 
Stanton found on entering the cabinet would have continued and the 
defeat instead of the victory of more than one army would have 
been recorded. 


On entering office Stanton found no provision for exchanging 
captives or the rehef of those whose deplorable condition in con- 
finement was appealing to the conscience of the nation. Therefore, 
on January 20, 1862, he appointed Hamilton Fish and Bishop E. R. 
Ames, by telegraph, placing fifty thousand dollars to their credit, to 
"provide for the wants and comfort of prisoners wherever held," 
and issued an order declaring that "the pay of all soldiers taken 
prisoners shall continue as long as they shall be held in captivity, 
with their usual rations." 

While Ames and Fish were en route to Richmond, Judah P. 
Benjamin, Confederate secretary of war, sent word that the com- 
mission need proceed no farther, as he desired to effect a general 
exchange of prisoners. The commissioners answered that they 
possessed no power to discuss exchanges and asked to be permitted 
to proceed on their humane mission, which was refused. Thus the 
difficult question of a general exchange came sharply to the front. 

Stanton could take no steps that might place the rebellious 
States on such an equality with the Government, even as belliger- 
ents, as would afiford the pretext which England and France were 
seeking to recognize the Confederacy as an independent State. 

The South, for that very reason, was extremely anxious to 
secure a written cartel of exchange that named in exact terms the 
Confederate States as a party. But the people, unable to measure 
the importance of this vital point, clamored loudly for such ex- 
changes as are usual when two hostile nations are at war, and, as 
the Confederates held more prisoners than the United States, Stan- 
ton instructed General John E. Wool, on February 11 : 

Arrange for the restoration of all prisoners to their homes, on fair 
terms of exchange, man for man and officer for officer of equal grade, 
assimilating the grades of the officers of the army and navy when neces- 
sary, and agreeing upon equal terms for the number of men or officers of 
inferior grades to be exchanged for any of higher grade when occasion 


shall arise. That all surplus prisoners on either side be discharged on 
parole, with the agreement that any prisoners of war taken by the other 
party shall be returned in exchange as fast as captured, and this system be 
continued while hostilities continue, so that on all occasions either party 
holding prisoners shall so hold them on parole till exchanged, the prisoners 
being allowed to remain in their own region until the exchange is effected. 
You will further inform whomever it may concern, that all of the pris- 
oners taken on board of vessels or otherwise in maritime conflict by the 
power of the United States, have been put and are now held in military 
custody and on the same footing as other prisoners taken in arms. 

The final paragraph was regarded as an important concession 
to the Confederates, the North having in captivity as "pirates" for 
exemplary punishment Confederate privateersmen who had for- 
feited the rights of war.* General Wool soon came to terms with 
the Confederate General Benjamin Huger, but the latter insisted, 
since the Confederacy was not specifically named in the cartel, that 
each party "deliver his captives free of expense on the frontier." 
Wool referred this demand to Stanton, who instantly said, "No, it 
is obnoxious in terms and inadmissible in import." To fix a 
"frontier" was to admit the existence of a power and a State beyond 
that frontier. In response to a resolution of Congress on March 24, 
1862, he stated : 

A late proposition for a new arrangement was promptly rejected be- 
cause its terms involved a distinct recognition of the rebels as an independ- 
ent belligerent power. Anxious as the Department is to release prisoners 
held in captivity by the rebels and restore them to their families and coun- 
try, all will recognize the paramount duty of guarding against any recog- 
nition of the enemy otherwise than as rebels in arms against the Govern- 

In the meantime Grant had taken nearly fifteen thousand pris- 
oners at Fort Donelson and Congress had granted money to Stan- 
ton for feeding, clothing, and nursing Federal captives. G. W. 
Randolph, the new Confederate secretary of war, proposed that 
each side appoint a commissary-general to distribute aid among 
and look after his own people in captivity, which proposition Stan- 

*On April 17, 1861, two days after Lincoln's call for troops, Jefferson 
Davis issued a proclamation inviting adventurers on the sea to apply for 
letters of marque and reprisal, and thus sent out "pirates" to prey on 
Northern ships. One of these, the Savannah, was captured and the crew 
convicted of piracy and sentenced to death on the ground that Davis was 
not "president" of any known or recognized government and, therefore, 
not capable of issuing valid commissions of any kind. 


ton rejected as recognizing the Confederacy as a government with 
authority to send officers and agents to another country. Besides, 
he said, Confederate captives were provided with good quarters, 
clothing, and enough to eat and required no special commissary. 

On July 12, 1862, he authorized General John A. Dix to "negoti- 
ate a general exchange of prisoners with the enemy, observing 
proper caution against the recognition of the rebel government." 
The meeting between Dix and General D. H. Hill was satisfactory, 
Stanton again telegraphing on July 16, that "no distinction will be 
made as to privateersmen," and a cartel (General Orders 142) was 
signed at Haxall's Landing, Virginia, on July 22, 1862, under which 
exchanges proceeded satisfactorily for some months, the designated 
points of delivery being Vicksburg, Mississippi, and City Point, 
near Richmond, Virginia, unless otherwise agreed by commanding 
generals after a given battle. 

However, on December 24, 1862, Jefferson Davis issued a 
proclamation declaring "Benjamin F. Butler to be a felon, an out- 
law, and common enemy of mankind and in event of his capture 
that he be instantly executed by hanging," and ordering "that no 
commissioned officer of the United States, taken captive, shall be 
released on parole for exchange until the said Butler shall have 
met with full punishment for his crimes." He also placed the com- 
missioned officers in Butler's command in the same category, and 
ordered all Africans taken in arms to be turned over to the several 
States to be dealt with according to the laws thereof against 
insurrection. Consequently, on December 30, 1862, Stanton "sus- 
pended the parole of all officers, prisoners of war," and, as the 
proclamation of emancipation had taken effect, Davis declared on 
January 12, 1863, that every commissioned officer of the United 
States taken captive should be turned over to the several States 
to be dealt with for "inciting servile insurrection" — that is, to 
be hanged ! 

Under these extreme conditions exchanges necessarily ceased. 
In the meantime the excess of captives held by the United States 
had increased ; the food supply in the South had become low and 
Confederate credit impaired. Therefore Robert Ould, Confederate 
agent of exchange, broached the subject anew, and Stanton in 
reply (April 18, 1863) demanded that he recant Davis' recent 
proclamation. This he would not do, he declared, if the captives 
on either side "had to rot, starve, and die," 


On May 1, 1863, the Confederate Congress enacted that com- 
missioned officers of the United States be dealt with by court- 
martial ; that all commissioned Union officers in command of 
African troops be held guilty of inciting servile insurrection and, 
when captured, put to death, and that Africans captured in arms be 
turned over to the State authorities to be punished for insurrection 
— sold into slavery or put to death. 

Therefore, on May 25, 1863, Stanton issued orders to exchange 
or parole no more Confederate officers and to "closely confine" and 
"strongly guard" all who had been paroled or who might thereafter 
be captured, and instructed Colonel Ludlow to inform Ould that 
the Federal Government would retaliate for the proposed hanging 
of Union captives who had commanded colored soldiers. He 
pointed out also that the Confederates themselves established the 
precedent of enlisting and arming Africans — first in Louisiana; 
then under General Albert Pike in Arkansas, and later by the 
conscription acts of their State legislatures, and finally, that they 
receipted for and counted in exchange the Confederate Africans 
captured by McClellan at the battle of Antietam, September 17, 
1862. In the meantime, Confederate officers like General W. H. F. 
Lee were held as hostages for the safety of any Union officers of 
colored troops that might be captured. 

After the battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, in July, 1863, 
the number of captives (privates) held by the United States was 
greatly in excess of those held by the Confederates. General Grant 
paroled his entire Vicksburg capture (except officers) of thirty 
thousand men and General Banks paroled over seven thousand at 
Port Hudson ; but, as immediately afterwards the paroles were 
discovered fighting under Braxton Bragg, near Chattanooga, Stan- 
ton ordered all paroled captives "reduced to actual possession" as 
soon as possible. About this time Governor Tod of Ohio informed 
him that Confederate captives desired to be paroled rather than 
exchanged, in order to avoid further military duty, and he re- 
sponded : 

If they are paroled, great complaint is made by the friends of our 
prisoners in the South. No trust can be placed in their paroles. It is 
cheaper to guard them where they are, for the rebel government will 
release them by pretended law from their parole and force all who do not 
go voluntarily, back into the ranks, so that we shall simply have to fight 
and take them again. 


The entire business of exchanging being now at a standstill, 
Ould resumed his efforts to have "citizens" included in the ex- 
change, and, in order to have equivalents, sent raiders into the 
border States to "capture" them — women, children, babes, sick, and 
aged — reporting to the Confederate Secretary of War, on Septem- 
ber 21, 1863: "We must have a Northern pressure to assist us. 
That can only be obtained by holding on to every Northern Union 
man." By "Northern pressure" he meant clamor in the North to 
force Stanton to accede to terms of exchange which involved 
recognition of the Confederacy. 

In October, 1863, General Meredith recommended reducing 
Confederate captives to "conditions similar to those of Union cap- 
tives in rebel prisons," and on November 9, finding himself unable 
to deal with Confederate officials or reach Union captives with 
relief, Stanton approved the recommendation. However, General 
E. A. Hitchcock, in charge of exchanges, protested, declaring that 
"human nature would not stand such treatment without revolt and 
that the Federal guards in charge of Confederate captives were 
insufficient in number to suppress such a revolt." The suggestion 
was not carried out. 

As Union captives were perishing like flies, Stanton ordered, 
on November 12, twenty-four thousand rations to Libby prison 
with instructions to Captain Forbes to issue them if permitted to 
do so. Ould returned the letter saying he himself would issue the 
rations, concluding: "If you are not satisfied, you can take back 
your rations and withhold any in the future." 

On the 12th of December the Confederates notified Stanton 
that they would receive no more supplies for Federal captives,* 
although, according to their own inspectors, such captives, for 
want of food, shelter, and clothing, were dying at an appalling rate. 

The rage of the North turned with redoubled fury upon Stan- 
ton for not proceeding with exchanges regardless of technicalities. 

*When his agents for the distribution of clothing and supplies were 
excluded from the Confederate prisons, and Northern contributions were 
consumed by the hungry Confederates before reaching the captives at 
Andersonville, Belle Isle, and Salisbury, Stanton instructed Colonel W. P. 
Wood to find a way to enter the Southern stockades and distribute among 
the prisoners there several millions of Confederate money which had been 
confiscated by him in the Old Capitol Prison. Dressed as a Confederate 
ofiicer, Wood succeeded in obeying orders and the captives used the funds 
thus secured to considerable advantage, 


He began despatching, therefore, in detachments of five hundred, 
Confederate sick and wounded to be specially exchanged for a like 
number of like character. Ould made the exchange, but, on Decem- 
ber 28, wrote that he would make no more deliveries unless a 
complete general exchange should be agreed upon and carried out, 
and General Lee declined making exchanges for his own army for 
the same reason — a general agreement or nothing. 

General Butler appealed to Stanton for authority to retaliate 
upon the Confederates in kind, declaring that, if permitted, he would 
"insure the safety of every prisoner that may fall into rebel hands," 
and that "for every wrong done to a Union soldier" there would be 
a "day of mourning" in the South ! Stanton did not grant the 
authority, but on April 17, 1864, ordered negotiations in relation to 
exchanges to be suspended, informing the Confederates that "unless 
every man — white, black, or red — who wore the uniform of a soldier 
of the United States when captured, should be accorded all rights 
due to prisoners of war, no more rebels would be exchanged or 

The Confederates themselves were starving and their armies 
decimating, yet their notions concerning the African in arms were 
such that they would not recognize him as a soldier for exchange 
or parole, thus, Stanton suggested, "putting a higher value on him 
than on a man of thefr own race." 

Even when the North held about fifty thousand and the South 
thirteen thousand captives, the insurgents would not "jump" ac- 
counts if the exchange — thirteen thousand for fifty thousand — must 
include Africans. General Hitchcock reported to Stanton that the 
insurgent agent, Ould, was literally unable to exchange Africans 
"because not a single colored soldier or officer of colored troops was 
ever permitted to reach his hands," the former being "sold into 
slavery, put to work, or shot and hung" before reaching a spot 
where they could be exchanged. 

Finally, in their distress, the insurgents ofifered to surrender 
Federal sick and wounded without equivalents. The oflfer was 
accepted on April 20, 1864, and the hospitals, as Ould says, were 
"searched for the worst cases." They were taken to Annapolis and 
photographed and inspected by a committee of Congress as re- 
quested by Stanton, who, in his order of May 4, declared : 

The enormity of the crime committed by the rebels toward our pris- 
oners for the last several months is not known or realized by our people, 


and cannot but fill with horror the civilized world when the facts are fully 
revealed. There appears to have been a deliberate system of savage and 
barbarous treatment and starvation, the result of which will be that few if 
any of the prisoners that have been in their hands will ever again be in a 
condition to render any service, or even to enjoy life. 

At this moment the massacre at Fort Pillow, in which the 
insurgent victors slaughtered captives as they surrendered, had so 
greatly enraged the North that Lincoln sought Stanton's opinion 
as to what course would probably check such awful barbarities. On 
May 5, 1864, Stanton responded with this extremely severe plan: 

First — That of the rebel officers now held as prisoners by the United 
States there should be selected by lot a number equal to the number of 
persons ascertained to have been massacred at Fort Pillow, who shall 
immediately be placed in close confinement as hostages to await such 
further action as may be determined. 

Second — That Generals Forrest and Chalmers and all officers and men 
known, or who may hereafter be ascertained, to have been concerned in the 
massacre at Fort Pillow be excluded, by the President's special order, from 
the benefit of his amnesty, and also that they, by his order, be exempted 
from all privilege of exchange or other rights as prisoners of war, and 
shall, if they fall into our hands, be subjected to trial and such punishment 
as may be awarded for their barbarous and inhuman violation of the laws 
of war toward the officers and soldiers of the United States at Fort Pillow. 

Third — That the rebel authorities at Richmond be notified that the 
prisoners so selected are held as hostages for the delivery up of Generals 
Forrest and Chalmers and those concerned in the massacre at Fort Pillow, 
or to answer in their stead, and in case of their non-delivery within a 
reasonable time, to be specified in the notice, such measures will be taken in 
reference to the hostages, by way of retributory justice for the massacre of 
Fort Pillow, as are justified by the laws of civilized warfare. 

Fourth — That after the lapse of a reasonable time for the delivery up 
of Chalmers, Forrest, and those concerned in the massacre, the President 
proceed to take against the hostages above selected such measures as may, 
under the state of things then existing, be essential for the protection of 
Union soldiers from such savage barbarities as were practised at Fort 
Pillow and to compel the rebels to observe the laws of civilized warfare. 

Fifth — That the practise of releasing, without exchange of equivalent, 
rebel prisoners taken in battle be discontinued, and no such immunity be 
extended to rebels while our prisoners are undergoing ferocious barbarity or 
the more horrible death of starvation. 

Sixth — That precisely the same rations and treatment be henceforth 
practised in reference to the whole number of rebel officers remaining in 
our hands as are practised against either soldiers or officers in our service 
held by the rebels. 


My reasons for selecting the officers instead of the privates for retal- 
iatory punishment are: First, because the rebels have selected white 
officers of colored regiments and excluded them from the benefit of the 
laws of war for no other reason than that they command special troops, and 
that, having thus discriminated against the officers of the United States 
service, their officers should be held responsible for the discrimination; 
and, Second, because it is known that a large portion of the privates in the 
rebel army are forced there by conscription, and are held in arms by terror 
and rigorous punishment from their own officers. The whole weight of 
retaliatory measures, therefore, should, in my opinion, be made to fall upon 
the officers of the rebel army, more especially as they alone are the class 
whose feelings are at all regarded in the rebel States or who can have any 
interest or influence in bringing about more humane conduct on the part 
of the rebel authorities. 

A serious objection against the release of prisoners of war who apply 
to be enlarged is that they belong to influential families, who, through 
representatives in Congress and other influential persons, are enabled to 
make interest with the Government. They are the class who, instead of 
receiving indulgences, ought, in my opinion, to be made to bear the 
heaviest burden of the war brought upon them by their own crimes. 

On receiving the foregoing opinion Lincoln promised the 
Committee on the Conduct of the War that if the testimony about 
to be taken should prove the charges made against the Confederate 
prison officials and the commander at Fort Pillow, he would "en- 
force the most energetic measures of retaliation." 

While evidence against the offenders was being gathered, the 
fortunes of war became so palpably favorable to the Union that 
Stanton modified his views and advised punishment through regu- 
larly constituted tribunals at the close of the conflict. That policy 
was adopted.* 

During this time semi-official British journals had been seeking 
to counteract the influence of the belief in Europe that Union cap- 
tives were being starved in insurgent prisons, and succeeded in 
having bazaars opened in England to raise money — not for the 
Union captives whose needs were so distressing, but for Confeder- 
ate prisoners who were housed and fed abundantly ! When seventy- 
five thousand dollars had been accumulated, the British asked per- 
mission to send agents for its distribution. "Almighty God ! No !" 

♦Captain Henry Wirz was executed at Washington on November 10, 
1865, for cruelties perpetrated by him on captives at Andersonville. Causes 
of death of Union captives were assigned by the insurgents as follows: 
"Wounds, 776; disease, 12,836; other known causes, 863; not listed [shot], 
100; unknown causes [starvation and exposure], 11,773; total, 26,408." 


shouted Stanton, and Secretary Seward informed the American 
minister in London that the Confederate captives were not in need 
of aid ; that English agents would not be permitted in our prisons 
and that there could be no correspondence on the subject with the 
British authorities. 

In August, General Grant suggested to Stanton that "under no 
circumstances should he permit General Foster to exchange cap- 
tives, as exchanges simply reinforce the enemy at once while we do 
not get benefit from those received for two or three months and 
lose the majority entirely." 

In September J. A. Seddon, Confederate secretary of war, 
favored effecting exchanges regardless of technical terms, saying: 
"We get rid of feeding and guarding that many prisoners and we 
give that many votes against Lincoln's [and for McClellan's] elec- 
tion." Ould objected to the proposal because it "would tend to 
weaken the pressure now bearing upon Lincoln which I doubt not 
will very soon force him into a general exchange." 

On October 7, 1864, Ould wrote to Stanton suggesting ar- 
rangements by which each might furnish supplies to the captives 
held by the other side. Stanton agreed, granting permission to the 
Confederates to buy anything wanted (except Federal uniforms) 
from the United States quartermasters, at Government prices, and 
to pay in cotton, the cotton to be carried free in Federal transports 
from Mobile or New Orleans to New York. Knowing that the 
Confederates held only a few captives compared with the number 
held by the North,* Stanton proposed also to exchange prisoners 
as far as the South could make deliveries and support the surplus 
in confinement at Federal expense. 

The proposition was not accepted, but when Ould asked 
whether such supplies as the South might be able to purchase with 

*The total number of captives taken by each side during hostilities is 
shown in the following: 

Federals. Confederate. 

Died in prison, 26,249 26,774 

Released on oath, 71,889 

Exchanged and paroled, 154,059 350,367 

Illegally paroled, 1,097 

Escaped, 2,696 2,098 

Joined Confederate Army, 3,170 

Joined Union Army, 5,452 

Unaccounted for, 3,084 

Recaptured, 17 

Total, 187,288 459,664 


cotton could also, like the cotton, be delivered "free of expense," 
Stanton generously replied affirmatively. Food, clothing, and medi- 
cine from the North were then poured into Richmond, Charleston, 
Andersonville, and other Confederate prisons, but the death-rate 
among the Federal captives continued to be frightfully large for 
the reason, agents reported, that the contributions were intercepted 
and consumed by the insurgents, who were almost equally hungry. 

The temper of the North was roused to vengeful heat by these 
reports, and in January, 1865, Congress was driven to give atten- 
tion to the matter. A resolution calling on Stanton for information 
was passed, but not until it had been made the occasion of fully 
explaining and vindicating his entire course. 

On February 11, 1865, at the close of the debate in Congress, 
General Grant testified before the Committee on the Conduct of the 
War that "he did not think it just to the men who had to fight our 
battles to reinforce the enemy with thirty or forty thousand strong 
and disciplined troops at that time," and explained that the Con- 
federate captives were forced back into service as soon as released 
while not half of the Federal prisoners could ever re-enter the army 
and none of them under one or two months. He also declared that, 
except for the sufiferings of the Union prisoners in the Confederate 
prisons, there would have been no exchanges at all, thus fully 
vmdicating Stanton's course. 

In January, 1868, while Stanton's suspension by President 
Johnson was under consideration in executive session of the Senate, 
the entire matter of exchanges was violently attacked by the 
Democrats. On the request of Senator Fessenden of Maine, Stan- 
ton furnished a written explanation of his course, especially describ- 
ing his unceasing efiforts to "provide for, relieve, and liberate our 
prisoners," but it was never given to the public. The suspension of 
exchanges, he said, was forced upon him by the flagrant abrogation 
of the cartel ; subjecting Union officers to the penalty of death for 
commanding colored troops ; refusing to release citizens (non-com- 
batants) captured in the loyal States ; releasing from parole and 
returning to battle (40,000) soldiers captured by Grant at Vicks- 
burg and Port Hudson ; condemning colored prisoners to death and 
"deliberately starving Union captives in rebel mews." 

Technically the South was always willing to exchange, but 
never upon terms that Stanton could accept, save from a humani- 
tarian standpoint — and there is little that is humanitarian in war. 


He was well informed concerning the unspeakable horrors of the in- 
surgent prisons ; he knew that the nation's heart was wrung with 
anguish and that he was cursed, by thousands of his countrymen; 
yet he knew also that in times of war all war matters must be 
managed upon a war basis, and that to accept the terms dictated 
by the Confederates meant a prolongation of the Rebellion, foreign 
intervention, and possibly a divided Union. 

Though his soul was on fire and the people's heart was break- 
ing, he resolutely planned and executed solely with reference to 
the future glories of a perpetually reunited Republic, with all the 
splendors of its race development, industrial advancement, general 
enlightenment, and social and political freedom in view ; and history 
says now that he was right. 


To Stanton's marked success in developing the full fighting 
strength of the North is largely due the preservation of the Union. 
It made him fame but not friends, for he laid an iron hand upon 
every community, if not upon every household. 

On April 3, 1862, seeing that to depend upon volunteers to 
recruit the armies transferred the preponderance of voting strength 
to the stay-at-home communities, which, being hostile to the war 
policy of the nation, did not promote enlistments or vote supplies, 
he ordered all recruiting suspended and the officers sent to the 
front. On August 4, 1862, he issued the President's call for three 
hundred thousand militia apportioned equitably among the States, 
following a proclamation for three hundred thousand volunteers to 
fill up old regiments, deficiencies in volunteers from any State to 
be filled by draft. A great hegira to Canada and Europe followed, 
which Stanton checked by the famous "stay-at-home" order of 
August 8, 1862, declaring that "no citizen liable to be drafted into 
the militia shall be allowed to go to a foreign country," and instruct- 
ing the military to arrest whoever might undertake it — which raised 
a yell of "copperhead" rage from ocean to ocean. 

Under this call the individual States inaugurated drafts, but 
they were inefifective. Less than eighty-five thousand out of three 
hundred thousand were drawn and hardly a full regiment reached 
the front. The States were unable to deliver the drafted men, and 
many of their executives and supreme courts entertained peculiar 
notions of State rights. In Wisconsin the draft was attended by 
rioting. When arrested by Federal marshals, the rioters sued out 
State writs of habe'as corpus, which General Elliott refused to obey. 
The matter was taken to the State supreme court, which promptly 
decided the draft invalid and the suspension of the writ of habeas 
corpus and declaration of martial law illegal, and issued an attach- 
ment for General Elliott. 


Stanton, greatly disturbed lest other States should imitate this 
example, sent Senator T. O. Howe to Madison to ask the Wisconsin 
court to reopen the case. A rehearing was granted in which Howe's 
argument was such as to secure a modified decision on March 25, 
1863, which upheld the draft and denied the writs of habeas corpus. 
Thereupon Stanton telegraphed to Senator Howe : 

I thank you with exceeding great joy for your telegram of the 25th, 
just received. It will do much to correct the evil occasioned by the action 
of your supreme court last fall. Accounts from all parts of the country 
show that the national spirit is growing stronger and stronger. 

A Federal draft, based on a Federal enrollment under the act 
of March 3, 1863, took the place of further State drafts, but col- 
lisions, legal interruptions, and riots attended its drawings more 
numerously than before. Calls came to Stanton simultaneously 
from two hundred cities, counties, and towns in Pennsylvania, New 
York, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts for troops to 
quell uprisings, to which he responded with marshals or soldiers. 

In New York City the disturbance assumed serious propor- 
tions. Governor Seymour first alleged that the draft was "unex- 
pected," then that the enrollment was fraudulent, and finally that 
the drawing must be deferred until the "constitutionality" of the 
law creating it could be "tested." 

"Ah," retorted Stanton, "it is the constitution and not the 
country that Mr. Seymour is anxious about." 

On July 11, 1863, when the drawing began, the provost 
marshal's quarters in New York were sacked and the wheels,* rolls, 
and draft paraphernalia burned. The office of the Tribune was 
partly demolished, and Horace Greeley, its editor, pursued to the 
home of a friend ; the house of Henry J. Raymond of the Times was 
sacked; the residence of Postmaster Wakeman and the police sta- 
tion at Eighty-sixth Street were mobbed and burned; the African 

♦Enrollment for a draft consists in making a book list of all males 
between the ages of 18 and 45, with each name also written on a card, all 
cards being stored away in packages by towns, wards, or districts. In 
making the draft the cards for a given district are placed in a wheel — 
occasionally in a box — and as the wheel turns a blind-folded person draws 
them out one after another until the required quota from that district has 
been filled. The drawn cards are canceled and filed away and those 
lemaining are stored for use at the succeeding draft. 


orphan asylum was bombarded and the firemen were kept at bay 
while it was being consumed by flames; negroes were chased out 
of town, stoned, beaten, and hanged; many business houses were 
looted and fired ; Stanton was hanged in effigy on Forty-sixth Street, 
where Colonel O'Brien was dragged from his horse and stoned to 
death and his frightfully mangled corpse strung to a lamp post ! 

On July 13, the third day of the riot, the draft was temporarily 
suspended and the mob, which had been led by Seymour's political 
adherents, after cheering for half an hour in front of General Mc- 
Clellan's residence, dispersed. The principal orator, "Colonel" 
Andrews, was arrested, tried, and sent to prison. Stanton, in the 
meantime, had ordered troops forwarded to New York, telegraph- 
ing to Governor Seymour : 

Eleven New York regiments are relieved and are at Frederick, Mary- 
land, and w^ill be forwarded to New York as fast as transportation can be 
furnished to them. Please signify to me anything you may desire to have 
done by the Department. Whatever means are at its disposal shall be at 
your command for the purpose of restoring order in New York. 

Seymour, who two months before had refused Stanton's re- 
quest for a personal conference concerning the draft, did not 
"signify" anything that he wanted done to "restore order in New 
York" ; and General John A. Dix, the chief in local command — with 
General E. R. S. Canby under him and General B, F. Butler in 
reserve — was ordered to prepare to assert national supremacy. 

James T. Brady, the eminent New York lawyer, wrote to Stan- 
ton that he feared a renewal of the riot on a more extensive scale 
and suggested that the Government propose to join Seymour in 
submitting the conscription law to the New York court of appeals. 
Stanton replied that he had always been willing to submit the act 
to judicial scrutiny, but the Federal courts alone had competent 
jurisdiction over questions arising under acts of Congress, con- 

In regard to addressing Mr. Seymour on the question: If the 
National executive must negotiate with State executives in relation to the 
execution of an act of Congress, then the problem which the Rebellion 
aims to solve is already determined. The Rebellion started upon the 
theory that there is no National Government but only an agency deter- 
minable at the will of the respective States. The governor of New York 
stands to-day on the platform of Slidell, Davis, and Benjamin; and if he is 
to be the judge of whether the conscription act is constitutional and may 


be enforced or resisted as he and other State authorities may decide, then 
the Rebellion is consummated and the National Government abolished. 

Having by temperate and careful correspondence drawn Sey- 
mour into a written record, General Dix, on August 12, reported: 

We are of opinion that the draft can safely commence in this city on 
Monday, with a sufficient force, but there ought to be 10,000 in the city 
and harbor. General Canby has now 5,000. Governor Seymour's letters 
have increased the dissatisfaction and multiplied the chances of collision, 
and there is but little doubt that he will do all in his power to defeat the 
draft, short of forcible resistance to it. I am constrained to believe that 
the whole moral influence of the executive power of the State will be 
thrown against the execution of the law * * * a^i^j ^ case may 
arise in which the military power of the State will be employed to defeat it. 

"Very well," said Stanton, finishing the letter, "if I must I 
will whip Seymour, too," and immediately forwarded the five 
thousand additional troops asked for. The draft was concluded 
without further bloodshed, drawing thousands of "copperheads" 
into the service. 

At Danville, Illinois, many persons were killed by the anti-war 
party, and at Lawrence, Kansas, which was completely sacked, 
nearly two hundred persons were slaughtered, two million dollars 
in property was burned, and all the records, papers, and enrollment 
lists of the provost marshal's office were destroyed. 

In Pennsylvania the first conscription was "tested" before the 
State supreme court and declared unconstitutional, a strong anti- 
war opinion being given by Judge G. W. Woodward in the case of 
Kneedler vs. Lane. The Federal court reversed this decision, al- 
though both judges of the district to which it was appealed were 
Democrats. Judge Woodward was then nominated for governor 
against Andrew G. Curtin. George B. McClellan, from his retreat 
in New Jersey, still holding a commission as a general in the army 
though not trusted with a command, began to write letters in sup- 
port of Judge Woodward, saying his "election was called for by the 
interests of the nation." Thereupon Stanton threw the entire 
weight of his influence in favor of Curtin, who was triumphantly 

There was turbulence in other States but it was of minor im- 
portance. In the meantime recruiting was being carried on by 
the governors in order to reduce the ratio of conscription. Most 
of them wanted to manage both processes (recruiting and drafting) 


according to their own notions.* Some of them demanded that 
drafts be made by counties ; some that they be based upon a count 
of actual population instead of the number of men of military age ; 
some wanted to recruit or draft for certain generals only, as Sigel, 
Larrabee, Smith, etc. ; some requested that the volunteers be as- 
sembled in solid new regiments and conscripts be sent to fill old 
regiments ; some insisted on having the money for bounties sent in 
bulk to be disbursed by themselves ; some wanted arms consigned 
to them in bulk to be distributed by "State agents"; some re- 
cruited three-months, one-hundred-days, and nine-months men and 
demanded that they be applied on the quotas drafted for three 
years; some wanted all Springfield and others all Enfield rifles; 
some requested that recruiting and drafting be postponed till after 
State and legislative elections had been held or the crops had been 
gathered ; one declared he would raise no more men unless they 
could be commanded by officers from the same State only; some 
desired to withdraw regiments from the field while they were being 
recruited ; some persisted that volunteers were State troops and 
could not be required to act in the United States service "without 
the formal consent of each individual," and some wanted, after 
men had been drafted, to permit them to enlist in order to secure 
("steal," Stanton said) the bounties and advance pay given to 
genuine volunteers — all of which is but a partial list of impossible, 
illegal, and very troublesome demands. 

Railway managers pleaded with Stanton to exempt their em- 
ployes ; steamboat companies to exempt their pilots and engineers ; 
telegraph associations to exempt their operators ; engravers to 
exempt their artists, and so on, while the Adams Express Company 
and a few other great corporations urged their employes to enlist. 
Stanton exempted locomotive engineers actually at work and em- 
ployes of the Military Telegraph, and attempted to respect the 
exemptions made by States. However, when villages of one 
thousand inhabitants forwarded lists of from one. hundred to two 
hundred men alleged to be "members" of the home "fire com- 
panies," he rebelled and ordered that only persons belonging to 
active fire companies previous to the call, be exempted. 

*In a telegram on August 4, 1864, to Governor Brough of Ohio, 
refusing some request, Stanton said: "Every governor claims some specific 
arrangement for himself. Only yourself and one or two others seem 
willing to conform to anything but their own notions." 


He was compelled to resist the combined ingenuity of the 
hostile and luke-warm sections of the entire nation. That he was 
able to do so and yet keep the loyal governors constantly pushing 
the business of furnishing soldiers, as he did, is remarkable. He 
invited some governors to consult with him in Washington ; sent 
strong men to visit others at their capitals, and others he was 
compelled to override. Thus, on September 5, 1862, to Governor 
Edward Salomon of Wisconsin : 

You are entirely mistaken in supposing that you are the exclusive judge 
as to whether arms and ammunition of the general Government are to be 
sent to your State. The President must be the judge. You have not until 
now stated any fact for the judgment of the President, but contented your- 
self with giving imperious orders. The Department has borne, and will 
continue to bear them patiently, and will act upon facts you may communi- 
cate. Orders have been given to send ammunition. The arms, it appears, 
you have seized. 

After each call for volunteers, or ofTer of troops, or order for 
a draft, Stanton began shouting to the officers and people of the 
loyal States to push, to hurry, to rush; and continued cannonading 
the entire line until the quotas were filled. Instead of receiving 
encouragement from the country, he furnished hope, spirit, and 
vigor for the whole campaign, vast as it was, sending a resume of 
the war news to all the loyal governors every night and securing 
letters and telegrams from commanders at the front urging vigor 
and haste in recruiting,* which he in turn sent to the country. 
There was no end of telegrams like the following, generally written 
with his own hand : 

To Governor Morgan, Albany, August 19, 1862, 9 P. M.: Your telegram 
received. The bounty will be paid the 113th Regiment on their arrival and 
all supplies will be furnished as speedily as possible. The emergency for 
troops here is far more pressing than you know or than I dare tell. Put 
all your steam on and hurry them up. 

To Governor Salomon, Madison, Wisconsin, August 22, 1862: Your 
20th Regiment is wanted in the field immediately. Not an hour can be 
spared and no leave of absence can be granted. Please report the moment 
it is mustered in. 

*This from General Sherman is a sample of telegrams he secured from 
active generals: "If the President modifies the draft to the extent of one 
man or wavers in its execution, he is done; even the army would vote 
against him." 


To Governor Morton,* Indianapolis, August, 19, 1862: The most per- 
emptory orders have been given to supply you with funds. If it is not done, 
I will dismiss the officer whose neglect occasions the delay, no matter what 
his rank. 

Whenever a person of foreign birth who was averse to entering 
the military service of his adopted country was enrolled, he filed a 
protest with the minister, consul, or agent of his native land, alleg- 
ing foreign allegiance and exemption from military duty in the 
United States. The foreign minister demanded suspension of pro- 
ceedings until the case could be investigated, which embarrassed 
and sometimes interrupted recruiting operations. Stanton there- 
fore ordered that whenever a drafted or enrolled man of foreign 
birth had voted, he should be held for military duty wihout waiting 
for further information or proceedings. "A man who votes must 
bear arms," he telegraphed to Governor Salomon of Wisconsin. 

In some instances, under this rule, men of foreign birth were 
enrolled, drafted, mustered in, forwarded, and killed in battle before 
the foreign agents had completed their "investigations." They had 
voted, held office, or served on juries, and Stanton ordered them to 
be whirled away to the front. 

While providing bounties, pressing the draft, punishing rioters, 
and prodding the recruiting officers, he also appointed commis- 
sions composed of distinguished men to examine enrollment lists, 
reassign and equalize quotas, unearth frauds, eliminate delays, and 
generally right such wrongs as so vast a piece of unusual machin- 
ery might develop. Sometimes, as in the case of New York, he 
appointed a separate commission for each State. As these com- 
missions were required to make formal reports of their doings, a 
written history of everything thus investigated was put on record 
for the future justification of Stanton. 

Early in 1863 he suggested the formation of an invalid corps, 
and soon organized over two hundred companies of experienced 
soldiers who had become, by wounds, or illness, incapacitated for 
field duty. This corps guarded prisoners, manned garrisons, cared 
for hospitals, defended arsenals, and performed other duties which. 

♦This telegram to Morton was brought out by the fact that the "cop- 
perhead" legislature of Indiana had refused to vote funds or men to carry 
on the war for the Union, thus completely tying the Governor's hands; and 
Stanton, rising supreme, as he always did on vital occasions, had agreed to 
forward something like a quarter of a, rnillion dollars from the FederaJ 
supply at Washington. 


without them, would have drawn twenty-five thousand or more 
able-bodied troops from the fighting line. He also suggested the 
veteran corps, to be composed of men who had served two years 
and over and were therefore not liable to draft. Grant heartily 
approved the suggestion and shortly thereafter Stanton sent for- 
ward an instalment of twenty thousand veteran fighters. 

For a time drafted men were permitted to purchase exemptions 
by paying three hundred dollars in cash to the provost marshals. 
Stanton asked Congress to wipe out that privilege, saying that he 
wanted men, not money. Thereafter drafted men were compelled 
to serve or hire substitutes, and the armies were filled. 

Bounty-jumping was one of the curses of troop-raising; yet, in 
his anxiety to accelerate recruiting, Stanton himself probably did 
as much as anybody to make giving and jumping bounties two of 
the conspicuous features of the war. He had favored paying 
bounties and Congress had provided for a bonus of one hundred 
dollars to each volunteer. On July 1, 1862, he authorized advance 
payment of twenty-five dollars of that bonus, taking the money 
therefor out of the adjutant-general's fund of nine million dollars. 
This so greatly stimulated enlistments that thereafter the bounty 
business became prodigious. After June 25, 1863, the Government 
paid four hundred dollars in eight instalments to veterans who 
re-enlisted ; after October 24, 1863, three hundred dollars in seven 
instalments to new recruits ; and after July 19, 1864, one hundred 
dollars for one year, two hundred dollars for two years, and three 
hundred dollars for three years to new recruits. 

To these bounties some local authorities, States, corporations, 
and wealthy individuals added large bonuses, frequently swelling 
the amounts to one thousand two hundred, one thousand five hun- 
dred, and two thousand dollars per man, all save that from the 
Federal Government payable in cash on enlistment. Desertions 
and bounty-jumping almost beyond belief followed.* Many men re- 
enlisted dozens of times, selecting for their criminal operations the 
localities paying the largest cash bounties. 

Stanton could not prevent wealthy from out-bidding poor com- 
munities for recruits enough to avert a draft, but finally issued 
an order to credit every enlisted man to the town or ward in which 
he resided, no matter where he enlisted. This raised a storm, many 

♦Official returns reported 278,644 deserters, of whom 77,181 vyere ar- 
rested and returned. 


governors hastening to Washington to urge that the order be set 
aside ; but he was inexorable, and Congress followed with laws of 
the same tenor. The secret of the opposition to this order lay in the 
fact that many local authorities winked at bounty-jumping. They 
secured enlistments to fill their quotas by large bounties and, re- 
porting their quotas full, relied on the Federal Government to hold 
the men thus enlisted or catch them if they deserted — an impossi- 
bility. Stanton's order made filling quotas by mere paper enlist- 
ments impossible — the actual men must be delivered ; hence the 
vigorous but futile opposition of governors and leading men who 
theretofore had been supposed to be loyal to the core. 

The wisdom of his methods for replenishing the armies* and 
putting finally a million men under arms at once, which were de- 
nounced as "arbitrary," "subversive of State rights," "autocratic," 
and all that, is amply proven by a condensation from the official 
record of their results: 

1. A complete exhibit of the military resources of loyal States where 
none had existed, showing 2,254,163 men, not including 1,000,516 under 
arms when the war closed; 1,120,621 men, not including cadets, etc., raised 
at a cost of $9.84 per capita, whereas the previous system, with cheaper 
rents, subsistence, etc., cost $34.01 per man; 77,181 deserters captured and 

2. A system of minute records of physical condition, age, etc., of all 
men examined placed in the army archives. 

3. An exact, digested exhibit of killed, imprisoned, deserted, executed, 
died of disease, etc., left to the historian. 

4. A self-sustaining basis established, with $9,390,105.64 balance at the 
end of the war to turn over to the United States Treasury from fees, etc., 
provided by law, whereas the cost of the preceding mode of recruiting 
($34.01 per man) came directly out of the Treasury. 

To illustrate Stanton's great constructive and administrative 
genius, General Thomas M. Vincent says that "when the Govern- 
ment was driven suddenly into the Spanish war in 1898, the War 
Department officials found in Series III. of the 'Records' a prece- 
dent for everything they were called upon to do," so that absolutely 
nothing had to be invented, nothing tested ; there was no delay. 

*Nearly 1,250,000 men are required for an army of 1,000,000 effective 
soldiers. The constantly sick averages about 116,000; deaths and dis- 
charges, 106,000 per year; deserters and missing, 68,000 per year; other 
losses, 12,000. Thus, the recruiting necessary to keep an army of 1,000,000 
effective men at the front averages about 246,000 per year, or 21,000 per 
month, Stanton's vast energy not only reached but passed this average. 


On being sworn in secretary of war, Stanton found the family 
of a leading general who held a confidential position in Washington 
imparting valuable military information to "friends in Richmond"; 
an arsenal foreman an outspoken secessionist; an ordnance officer 
in correspondence with a Confederate commander ; many members 
of the National Volunteers, an organization formed to prevent the 
inauguration of Lincoln, occupying positions in the War Depart- 
ment; some of the leading clerks robbing the Government by col- 
lusion with contractors for army supplies ; the Department mails 
used for carrying damaging information to the insurgents, and the 
fluctuations of the Treasury, the progress of recruiting, proposed 
army movements, and even cabinet discussions reported promptly 
and accurately in Richmond. 

He dismissed the postal messenger in the War Department 
and detailed his own confidential clerk (A. E. H. Johnson) to suc- 
ceed him,* thereby stopping, as he wrote to C. A. Dana, many "rat 

The Knights of the Golden Circle, Sons of Liberty, Circle of 
Hosts, Union Relief Society, and kindred oath-bound orders of 
numerous membership, weakened the Government and harassed 
Stanton almost as much as the armed enemies at the front. Their 
extent and power were surprising. When C. L. Vallandigham was 

*"0n January 30, 1862," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, "I was ordered 
to take charge of the mails. Before that the bags were the daily vehicle 
for the letters of Washington rebel sympathizers to their friends in the 
South, the letters being collected in a pouch in the hall so that anybody 
could use it. The mail was also opened upon a table in the hall, and distrib- 
uted by the messenger. I had charge of the mails two months, and during 
that time secured evidence on which clerks were dismissed, army officers 
arrested for fraud, and a very high civilian official sent on a mission from 
which he never officially returned. As he was departing, the President, who 
was present, inquired where he was going, and the reply was, 'Up in a bal- 
loon.' " 


at the head of the Golden Circle he claimed to have initiated two 
hundred thousand "copperheads" capable of bearing arms, and the 
allied orders in 1864 were said to number eight hundred thousand, 
North and South. During McClellan's campaign for the presidency 
they were known as the "McClellan Minute Guards." Their oaths 
varied slightly and the central name was changed from time to time, 
owing to exposure of their officers and rituals by Stanton's secret 
service. Their purpose may be inferred from their oaths, a sample, 
given in the Federal court of Indianapolis, being in part thus : 

I, , do solemnly swear in the 

presence of Almighty God that I will go to the aid of all true and loyal 
Democrats and oppose the confiscation of their property either North or 
South. I further promise and swear that I will not reveal any of the 
secret signs, passwords, or grips to any not legally authorized by this 
order, binding myself under no less penalty than having my bowels torn 
out and cast to the four winds of heaven; so help me God. I promise and 
swear that I will do all in my power to bring all loyal Democrats into this 
Circle of Hosts. I further promise and swear that I will do all in my 
power against the present Yankee-abolition-disunion administration; so help 
me God. 

Subscribers to the oath of the Union Relief Society, as dis- 
closed in the Federal court at Des Moines, were compelled to 
swear: "I will resist draft either by State or Federal authorities; 
I will resist all orders issued by the present administration ; and I 
will do all in my power to unite the States of the Northwest with 
the Southern Confederacy."* 

This tremendous army of sedition, partially armed and drilled, 
was practically beyond Stanton's reach. However, when captured 
papers disclosed that one of his personal friends and a member of 
the court of claims in Washington was a high official of the disloyal 
order, he instructed Colonel W. P. Wood to lay the inculpating 
documents personally before the judge. Court was in session, but 
Wood strode up to the bench saying : "I am directed by the Secre- 
tary of War to deliver this package to you in person and to say that 

♦Governor Morton telegraphed to Stanton, January 3, 1863, that the 
Indiana legislature contemplated "acknowledging the Southern Confeder- 
acy, and urging the States of the Northwest to dissolve all constitutional 
relations with the New England States. The same thing is on foot in 
Illinois." C. L. Vallandigham stated in Canada that the Knights of the 
Golden Circle proposed to seize the governments of the Northwestern 
States, and, joining with the South, dictate terms of peace, 


it relates to a matter demanding immediate attention." Court was 
hastily adjourned ; the frightened judge proceeded quickly to the 
War Ofifice, where he finally took the oath of allegiance and gave 
such information as enabled Stanton to break up the order in the 
District of Columbia and cripple its power everywhere. That in- 
formation disclosed that one of the chief purposes of the order was 
to destroy the Government arsenals and war stores, which fact was 
confirmed by documents filed by Allan Pinkerton. Thereupon, in 
September, 1862, Stanton issued an order to General Ripley, chief 
of ordnance : 

You will give immediate and strict attention to the officers in charge 
of all the arsenals, armories, and magazines of the United States. There is 
reason to believe that an organized design is on foot for their destruction. 

So thoroughly was this order carried out that no arsenals were 
destroyed, although not less than fifty attempts were made upon 
the Indianapolis arsenal alone. But Stanton was not equally suc- 
cessful everywhere, although in every community throughout the 
North, Union Leagues, Orders of the Stars and Stripes, Loyal Le- 
gions, Sons of Patriots, and similar clubs were organized under oath 
to offset the doings of the "copperheads." All were in secret com- 
munication with Stanton, as the following incident, related by 
George B. Smythe of Newark, Ohio, will show: 

The Union League in Columbus, a secret organization, sent informa- 
tion to Secretary Stanton. Lists of prominent people alleged to be disloyal 
were thus forwarded and Stanton ordered their arrest. 

The late Allen G. Thurman and myself arranged to have two men join, 
and, neither knowing what the other was doing, report its proceedings to 
us. They reported a list of names that had been made up to forward to 
Mr. Stanton, among them those of Thurman and myself. We took the 
postmaster, a mutual friend, into our confidence. When time came to make 
up the Washington mail he told his clerks that he himself would attend to 
it. Later his action leaked out and he lost the post-office. 

Mr. Stanton narrowly escaped being a victim of his own kind of 
machinery. For a time during the war his mother resided at Gambier. 
Coming West to see her, he stopped at Newark. Joe Griffith, marshal, 
noticed a stranger walking up the middle of the street alone and arrested 
him as a suspicious character. Mr. Stanton was able to demonstrate that 
he was the Secretary of War and Griffith conducted him to the American 
House where, without registering, he remained until night, incognito. Later 
a message came from the hotel to my office saying that the Secretary of 
War would like to see me. The memory of severe criticisms which I had 
made being fresh, I had not the courage to meet Mr. Stanton, and I sent 


word back that I was "too busy to see the Secretary of War." I have never 
ceased to condemn myself for that hasty decision, for I never again had an 
opportunity of meeting my old friend.* 

Being in Steubenville, his birthplace, during the war, Mr. Stan- 
ton met an old political friend, Moses Dillon, who had been unfor- 
tunate and was now poor. "Come to Washington, Mose," said he, 
taking his friend by the hand sympathetically, "and I will give you 
employment. I suppose, of course, you are a steadfast Union man?"' 
"Well," was the reply, "I voted for Vallandigham for governor." 

"Voted for Vallandigham ! Then you shall never have a posi- 
tion under this Government if I can prevent it," exclaimed Stanton, 
turning on his heel. 

Clement L. Vallandigham, for whom Stanton's friend Dillon 
could not vote and be loyal, was convicted of sedition at Cincinnati 
on May 19, 1863, by a military commission, and sentenced to Fort 
Warren during the remainder of the war. Ten days later on Stan- 
ton's recommendation,! Lincoln commuted the sentence by direct- 
ing the prisoner to be sent beyond the Federal military lines, which 
was done, and with which judgment the United States Supreme 
Court refused to interfere. 

Very many of Stanton's early friends, like Vallandigham, much 
to his sorrow and embarrassment, did not support the Government. 
One of them was L. P. Milligan of Huntington, Indiana, who was 
convicted by a military commission of connection with the Knights 
and conspiring against the Government. The findings were ap- 
proved by the President and the day fixed for the execution. In 
the meantime Lee had surrendered and Mrs. Milligan had made 
a personal visit to Stanton, the friend of her childhood, which re- 
sulted in commuting the sentence of her husband,$ who was finally 

*Mr. Smythe "stood up" with the groom at Stanton's marriage with 
Mary A. Lamson. 

fStanton and Vallandigham were born in adjoining counties in Ohio 
and from youth had been intimate personal friends. Their friendship was 
of such a character that Stanton loaned $500 to Vallandigham with which 
to complete a course and set himself up in law. 

tSays Mr. Milligan: "My wife visited Stanton with a written brief of 
my case which I had prepared. The vestibule of his ofifice was a jam; but 
she was admitted at once. Mr. Stanton looked at the paper, said he 
recognized the handwriting, put the brief in his breast pocket and said: 
'Mrs. Milligan, you will have to excuse me; my time is precious; but you go 


released from prison at Columbus, the United States court declaring 
his conviction to have been illegal. 

Certain members of Congress caused Stanton much anxiety. 
Their hostile speeches, printed in the Globe and circulated free over 
the country, gave great encouragement to those who opposed the 
war. Perhaps the brothers Benjamin and Fernando Wood of New 
York were as troublesome as any of this class. In June, 1862, a 
committee was appointed to inquire into the allegation that the 
former had communicated Federal information to the enemy. He 
gave out that he intended to attack the Government in reply to the 
proceedings. By Stanton's orders the telegraph wires leading to 
the Capitol were switched into the War Department so he could 
follow the speech, and officers were detailed to clap Mr. Wood into 
the Old Capitol Prison in case the promised remarks should be too 
disloyal. Contrary to expectation. Wood said nothing offensive ; but 
his paper, the New York News, was suppressed for seditious utter- 
ances and disloyal practises and not permitted to resume publica- 
tion during a period of eighteen months. Later, when Fernando 
Wood made a speech against the Government, Stanton heard it by 
telegraph with warrant in hand for his arrest if necessary; but the 
speaker was not molested. However, the fact that Stanton knew 
the substance of every disloyal speech as soon as it was uttered, and 
that he was ready to cut the oration short at any point if deemed 
advisable, had a depressing efifect and made his influence more 
potent than that of any other person in the Republic. 

An exasperating feature of his troubles was the foreign citizen- 
ship of many of the spies and agents of the Confederacy. Supplied 
with passports called "protection papers," they were supposed to 
be neutral ; but as a matter of fact, hundreds of them, including very 
many foreign consuls, belonged to the Knights of the Golden Cir- 
cle, raised money for the South, gave information for running the 
blockade with contraband goods, carried contraband despatches and 
articles through the Federal lines, and maintained a perfect line of 
communication between the Confederate government at Richmond 
and their many agents in Canada and Europe. 

home. Your husband will not be executed and when the present excitement 
subsides he shall be released.' My wife left for home in full confidence 
that I was not to be executed. Three hours after this interview Governor 
Morton and Senator Hendricks received despatches from the War Office 
announcing the commutation." 


Jacob Thompson, Buchanan's secretary of the interior, was the 
leader of the junta in Canada, where plots against the Government 
were concocted, some of which were to blow up the locks at Sault 
Sainte Marie, the outlet of Lake Superior; set fire to Northern cities 
on election day ; send clothing infected with smallpox, yellow fever, 
and other diseases throughout the North ; liberate the Confederate 
prisoners at Chicago, loot the banks and burn the city ; deliver the 
captives from the barracks on Johnson's Island, in Lake Erie; seize 
Fort Montgomery and the boats on Lake Champlain ; raid and rob 
Plattsburg, Whitehall, Burlington, Swanton, and St. Albans — espe- 
cially the banks of those cities — and, by destroying railways and 
bridges, hold the Northern frontier, with Fort Montgomery as a 

Most of these plans were exposed and frustrated by Stanton's 
ceaseless vigilance, but kidnapping Lincoln and his cabinet was 
conceived and paid for in Montreal and Toronto, and, on October 19, 
1864, St. Albans was raided, two persons were killed, and two hun- 
dred thousand dollars taken from the banks. The raiders were 
twice arrested but discharged by the Canadian courts on the ground 
that they were belligerents and the raid an act of war. Later, how- 
ever, Canada was compelled to make reimbursement of the stolen 

The Chicago conspiracy was frustrated in November, 1864. 
Large quantities of arms were captured by General P. St. George 
Cooke, and hundreds of members of the Indiana and the Illinois 
Sons of Liberty, nearly two hundred Confederates who had been 
ordered over from Canada by Jacob Thompson, and several British 
subjects* provided with so-called "protection papers," were arrested. 
Thereupon Stanton instructed his officers to incarcerate incom- 
municado every agent or person known to be traveling about under 
the shield of "protection papers." This order pretty effectively dis- 
posed of the most despicable of secret foes with which he had to con- 
tend, but created a new class of personal enemies whose tongues 
are still wagging. 

*In New Orleans, those claiming to be British and other foreign sub- 
jects were unable to cope with the vigor of General Butler, so thousands 
of them secreted their property, ceased work, and lived upon his bounty as 
paupers — a shrewd way of burdening the Government. 


He was hampered by a fire in the rear from the cabinet itself. 
Before becoming secretary of war he had criticized the Navy De- 
partment, especially the payment of a very large fee or "commis- 
sion" to a favorite relative of the Secretary for purchasing vessels, so 
that Mr. Welles was uncordial from the beginning. 

Postmaster-General Blair was hostile, even protesting against 
Stanton's retention as secretary. As he was a Marylander, Stanton 
called his attention, in cabinet meeting, to the fact that nearly all 
the postmasters in lower Maryland were receiving contraband let- 
ters, articles, documents, and information and forwarding them by 
blockade runners to Richmond, and suggested that each secretary 
be held responsible for the loyalty and conduct of his own employes 
and appointees. The feeling thus accentuated was further inflamed 
by the arrest of several Marylanders, who turned out to be Mr. 
Blair's relatives, for trading in quinine with the Confederates. In 
view of this relationship and the fact that some of the parties ar- 
rested were women, Stanton ordered their release after confiscating 
their horses and vehicles and four hundred and fifty ounces of quin- 
ine. Mr. Blair demanded restitution of the property, which was 
refused, and then asked Lincoln for the dismissal of General L. C. 
Baker, who made the seizures. As Baker was Stanton's personal 
appointee and agent, Lincoln advised Stanton of the demand and 
was assured that "Mr. Blair's dismissal would be more beneficial 
to the country than that of General Baker." Thereafter Mr. Blair's 
displeasure was very positive and so continued to the end of life. 
He was retired from the cabinet on September 23, 1864. 

Perhaps Stanton's most interesting opponent was Mrs. Lincoln, 
whose personal intimacy with the Woods and other enemies of the 
administration and the war he mentioned to the President himself. 

"Mr. Stanton was often enraged because Mrs. Lincoln sent 
quantities of flowers from the Government greenhouses to the resi- 
dence of Congressman Fernando Wood whenever Mr. and Mrs. 
Wood — both of whom denounced the Secretary and the war inces- 
santly — gave a public reception," says Major A. E. H. Johnson. 
"She retaliated by sending to him books and clippings describing 
an exacting and disagreeable person." However, during 1863 Mrs. 
Lincoln became reconciled to Stanton's heroic ways and their inter- 
course thereafter was entirely agreeable. 

Thus is faintly indicated the character of the hostile forces that 


were operating behind his back,* as well as how largely alone he 
stood in the great task that was set for him to accomplish. More 
than 90 per cent, of all the criticism and denunciation which have 
echoed and reechoed over his grave during the past thirty years 
can be traced to those whose unlawful or selfish plans were 
thwarted, whose filchings were recovered,! whose unfaithful heads 
were guillotined, or whose crimes were punished by his fearless 
and overmastering energy. 

*The crushing perplexity that constantly attended the endeavor to save 
a country that was trying, secretly as well as openly, to destroy itself, is 
partially illustrated by thousands of telegrams and letters on file in the 
secret archives of the Government of which this is a sample: 

"New York, Dec. 29, 1863, 1 P. M. 
"The Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War: 

"I have this morning seen evidence which affords good ground for the 
belief that the United States Marshal here is probably in full partnership 
with the rebel operators of this city. From long personal knowledge of the 
individual, I have no doubt he is perfectly capable of such treasonable con- 

"C. A. Dana." 

tStanton's secret service alone recovered over $1,000,000 of stolen cash 
and sent more than 1,000 offenders to prison. 



On December 28, 1864, Lincoln gave to F. P, Blair a pass 
through the lines for a journey to see Jefferson Davis. On January 
18, Blair returned with a letter from Davis which said he would 
"not stand on forms" in an effort to restore "peace to the two coun- 
tries." Lincoln, very much pleased, instructed Blair to revisit Rich- 
mond and learn what steps Davis proposed to take in behalf of peace. 
On second thought he consulted Stanton, who exclaimed : 

There are not two countries, Mr. President, and there never will be 
TWO countries. Tell Davis that if you treat for peace, it will be for this 
ONE country; negotiations on any other basis are impossible. 

Lincoln instantly adopted this view and sent a reply to Davis 
by Blair agreeing to receive agents to treat for peace for our ''one 
common country." 

Thereupon Davis appointed R. M. T. Hunter, Alexander H. 
Stephens, and John A. Campbell to proceed to Washington to meet 
the President, and asked Grant for safe conduct. Stanton peremp- 
torily forbade issuing passes to insurgent agents to visit Washing- 
ton. Next morning, however, he telegraphed that a messenger 
would meet the gentlemen where they were — at City Point, near 
Richmond — and sent Major Thomas T. Eckert, who bore a letter 
from Lincoln saying simply that if the proposed commissioners 
would come to the terms of his letter to Davis — to treat for peace 
in "one common country" — they would be met. 

Grant had represented that the commissioners were sincere, 
but Major Eckert, who was sent by Stanton to prevent Lincoln from 
being snared into agreeing to destructive terms of peace, thought he 
did not find them so, and turned them back. Grant, seeing his rep- 
resentations going for naught, telegraphed at length to Stanton that 
the insurgent commissioners were in earnest and that Lincoln him- 
self ought to meet them, and then gave the safe conduct which Eck- 
ert, under Stanton's instructions, had refused. Stanton declined to 


have anything to do with the affair. He believed that it was decid- 
edly beneath the dignity of the President and his cabinet, and also 
that it must prove a failure or a disaster because, he said, Lincohi 
"had no right to do anything except demand unconditional surren- 
der," and he had learned (which fact Eckert had confirmed at City 
Point) that the commissioners were empowered to come to no terms 
that did not recognize the Confederacy as a separate State. He so 
informed Lincoln and begged him to be cautious. 

"You observe, Mr. President," he said, "that Davis himself does 
not propose to meet you; he sends underlings who have no discre- 
tion beyond their instructions and whose acts can be repudiated, if 
necessary. But go, if you think the proposition is not a trap,* and I 
will remain here and push our plans for crushing the enemy, which 
is the only thing that will save the Union." 

Lincoln, offering no reply, proceeded to Fortress Monroe and, 
with Secretary Seward, had a conference of four hours with the in- 
surgents, which resulted, as Stanton had predicted, in nothing, 
though many writers of "history" allege that the President offered 
to pay the insurgents four hundred million dollars for their slaves 
if the war should be closed at once. This assertion is probably en- 
tirely unfounded, as Stanton had explained before Lincoln de- 
parted that already all the slaves of rebellious masters had been con- 
fiscated under the laws of war, and therefore could not be subjects 
of compensation. He also pointed out that Congress had passed 
the Trumbull (XHIth) Amendment of the constitution, which for- 
ever wiped out slavery both as a thing and as a right, so there were 
no slaves in existence to be paid for. However, the historian can 
only imagine what would have happened if Stanton had not inter- 
posed a masterful hand. 

*"Mr. Stanton did not want the President to grant that conference," 
says Major A. E. H. Johnson. "He believed from the beginning that the 
coming of the Confederate commissioners was a trap laid for Mr. Lincoln. 
He did not want to accompany the President and suggested sending Gen- 
eral Eckert in advance with specific instructions to test the sincerity of the 
commissioners, and privately told Eckert to 'keep close to Mr. Lincoln.' 
When General Eckert returned he raised his hands above his head and 
exclaimed: 'You are head and shoulders above them all, Mr. Secretary!' 
He then related all that had transpired. He never made a written report, 
but I know that Mr. Stanton enjoined him to watch closely the proceedings 
and I know also that he obeyed the injunction and reported thereon orally.' 


Lincoln and the several members of his cabinet gathered in a 
room at the Capitol on the evening of March 3, 1865, to dispose of 
the last bills of the expiring thirty-eighth Congress. While thus 
engaged a telegram from Grant advised that Lee sought an inter- 
view for the purpose of arranging terms of peace. Lincoln, rejoic- 
ing at the prospect of terminating the war and overflowing with 
kindly feelings, proposed to allow Grant to extend to the vanquished 
insurgents almost any terms they might ask if they would cease 

"Stanton listened in silence," says Carpenter's "Six Months in 
the White House," "restraining his emotion ; but at length the tide 
burst forth. 'Mr. President,' said he, 'to-morrow is inauguration 
day. If you are not to be president ; if any authority is for one 
moment to be recognized or any terms made that do not signify that 
you are the supreme head of the nation ; if generals in the field are 
to negotiate peace, or any other chief magistrate is to be acknowl- 
edged on this continent, you are not needed and you had better not 
take the oath of office.' " 

The President's tone changed. "I think the Secretary is right," 
he said with an air of thoughtfulness and, taking a pen, wrote the 
following, which, being satisfactory, was dated and signed by Stan- 
ton and sent from the Capitol: 

Washington, March 3, 1865, 12 P. M. 
Lieutenant-General Grant: 

The President directs me to say to you that he wishes you to have no 
conference with General Lee, unless it is for the capitulation of General 
Lee's army, or on some minor or purely military matter. He further 
directs me to say to you that you are not to decide, discuss, or confer upon 
any political question. Such questions the President holds in his own 
hands and will submit them to no military conference or convention. Mean- 
time you are to press to the utmost your military advantages. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 

Secretary of War. 


Pending the conversion of Lincoln to the above and during the 
night of March 3, Stanton formulated and sent the following, which 
refers to the preliminary work of arranging the proposed confer- 
ence with Lee : 

General Ord's conduct in holding intercourse with General Longstreet 
upon political questions not committed to his charge is not approved. The 
same thing was done in one instance by Major Key when the army was 
commanded by General McClellan and he was sent to meet Howell Cobb 
on the subject of exchanges, and it was in that case, as in this, dis- 
approved. You will please in the future instruct officers appointed to meet 
rebel officers to confine themselves to the matters especially committed 
to them. 

Grant was embarrassed and probably nettled by the peremptory 
nature of these instructions, for Lincoln himself had personally told 
him to "give Lee anything he wants if he will only stop fighting,"* 
in accordance with which, through his staff officer (E. O. C. Ord), 
he had sent word to the Confederate commander that he "would not 
decline" a conference for the purpose of discussing a basis for end- 
ing the war, or at least suspending hostilities. A "basis" was 
promptly outlined by Jefiferson Davis and discussed at several inter- 
views between General Ord in behalf of Grant and General Long- 
street in behalf of Lee and "President" Davis. 

On February 28, Davis, having given authority to Lee to enter 
finally upon these negotiations, Grant telegraphed and Stanton an- 
swered as above set forth. Thus Lincoln was thrashed out of his 
previous untenable views and Grant rescued none too soon from 
an entangling position — that of "negotiating peace" when he had no 
authority except to accept surrender. In that moment of weakness, 
a single intellect was clear enough, a single will decisive enough to 
prevent a reprecipitation of chaos. 

On March 14, Stanton visited Grant at headquarters to give 
advice by parol which he did not care to put in writing concern- 
ing terms of surrender and kindred matters. "You must capture 
Lee at any hazard," was his injunction. "Yes," quietly answered 
Grant, "I shall do so in about twenty days." Then, after witness- 
ing a review of General Meade's army, he returned to Washington 
and suggested to Lincoln, reinforced by Grant, that it might be 
interesting for the President to be near the front to witness the col- 

♦See Secretary Welles' "Lincoln and Seward." 


Lincoln adopted the suggestion and left on March 23, on board 
the Bat, for City Point, to carry out Stanton's remarkable program. 
He there received a telegram from Stanton: "I hope to have a tele- 
gram from you dated at Richmond before you return." Generally, 
Stanton's communications were swift and sharp, like the discharges 
of a Catling gun ; but the prospects of a speedy collapse of the Re- 
bellion seemed to relax the severity of his temper. "Your telegram 
and Parke's report of the scrimmage this morning are received," 
lie replied to a telegram from Lincoln on the 25th. "The rebel rooster 
looks a little the worse, as he could not hold the fence. Now that 
you are away, everything is quiet; the tormentors have vanished. 
I hope you will remember Ceneral Harrison's advice to his men at 
Tippecanoe, that they could see as well a little further oflf." 

Thus he telegraphed on the 26th : "Your military news warms 
the blood, or we should be in danger of a March chill." On the 
31st, Lincoln having expressed an intention to return to Washing- 
ton, Stanton thus protested: 'T hope you will stay and see it out. I 
have strong faith that your presence will have great influence in 
inducing exertions that will bring us Richmond. Compared to that, 
no other duty can weigh a feather. A pause now by the army would 
be harmful. If you remain on the ground, there will be no pause." 

Lincoln remained as requested. Grant and other generals tele- 
graphing full advices to him which were repeated promptly to Stan- 
ton, who formulated bulletins therefrom to be telegraphed broad- 
cast -over the country. Thus, with their President for reporter, the 
people were kept in elation and excitement for a week by the news 
from the front. On the 3d of April he telegraphed to Stanton that 
Petersburg had been evacuated and he was about to accompany 
Grant on the march of interception. Stanton inquired instantly: 
"Ought you to expose the nation to the consequences of any disas- 
ter to yourself in the pursuit of a treacherous and dangerous enemy 
like the rebel army?" Thus warned, the President desisted, and 
that very morning General Godfrey Weitzel entered, Richmond, 
hoisted the Stars and Stripes and took formal possession of the 
city. Next morning Lincoln, on foot and with no guards, passed 
into the smoking and ruined capital. 

At this moment W. E. Kettles of Boston, 16 years of age, was 
operating the Richmond wire in the War Department. His story 
is most interesting: 


On the morning of April 3, 1865, Fort Monroe suddenly switched City 
Point on and told us to look out for Richmond. "Richmond" meant an 
operator within four miles of the city and not the city proper, and we all 
accordingly sharpened for "R'd." Quickly there came a despatch to Mr. 
Stanton saying that General Weitzel entered Richmond that morning 
at 8:15 o'clock. 

I took the despatch, and ran with the copy to the room adjoining the 
library, upsetting my table, ink and all. I found Mr. Tinker, the cipher 
clerk, who in three seconds disappeared with the message. I went back to 
my table, which had been fixed up in the meantime, soon followed by Mr. 
Tinker. We stepped to a window overlooking the street. Just as we did so 
a man sauntered up the walk in front of the Department and as he was a 
friend of Mr. Tinker's, yelled up: "What's the news?" Mr. T. replied: 
"Richmond's surrendered!" 

It was comical to see that man go yelling out of the front yard. In 
four minutes there were thousands of people around the Department. 
Every office and building in the city seemed to open at the same time. The 
streets filled from every direction. Horse cars had no show; steam fire- 
engines came out on the avenue, bunched themselves, and commenced 
whistling; cannon planted in the park close by began firing; and men, 
women, and children yelled themselves hoarse and acted ridiculous. The 
noise was tremendous — pandemonium is the word. 

At this time Secretary Stanton came into my room, and, on being told 
by General Eckert that I was the boy who received the message, grabbed 
me in his arms, lifted me to the window sill and, making a gesture to the 
crowd below, shouted: "My friends, here is the young man who received 
the telegram which tells us of the fall of Richmond." 

At the sight of Stanton the cheering became more vociferous 
than ever, accompanied by peremptory demands for a speech. With 
voice half choked and form shaking with emotion, he made this 
lofty response: 

Friends and Fellow Citizens: 

In this great hour of triumph my heart as well as yours swells with 
gratitude to Almighty God for His deliverance of this nation. Our thanks 
are due to the President, to the army, to the navy, to our great commanders 
on land and sea, to the gallant officers and men who have periled their lives 
upon the field of battle and drenched the soil with their blood. 

Henceforth our commiseration and our active aid should be extended 
to the wounded, the maimed, and the suffering who bear the many marks of 
their sacrifices in this mighty struggle. 

Let us humbly offer our thanks to Divine Providence for His care over 
us and beseech Him to guide and govern us in our duties hereafter, as He 
has carried us to victory in the past; to teach us how to be humble in the 
midst of triumph; how to be just in the hour of victory; and how to so se- 
cure the foundations of this Republic, soaked as they are in blood, that they 
shall last forever and ever! . 


At the conclusion of his speech Stanton read to the multitude 
the official telegram from General Weitzel announcing the surren- 
der, whereupon there were calls for a speech from Willie Kettles. 
Stanton again lifted the lad to the window who says of his exper- 

Insignificant things were great things on that day and Mr. Stanton's 
performance set the vast crowd to yelling, the cannons to roaring, and the 
whistles to screeching more terribly than ever; and I, who weighed nearly 
90 pounds, was a big man — as big a man, I thought, as Mr. Stanton him- 
self. The Republic was saved, and I felt that I had saved it. 

The Secretary was beside himself with joy. The investment of Rich- 
mond was his chief hobby, and he was intensely anxious to have Jeff 
Davis with all his papers,* captured along with the remainder of the Con- 
federate effects. "We must have him, too," he said. "We must let him see 
what he has been doing." 

The War Department enjoyed a sort of go-as-you-please day — the first 
in its history under Mr. Stanton. No one ever beheld a more changed 
man. He walked about the building smiling, chatting, and receiving callers 
in exuberant mood. Toward midnight, however, the usual pressure was 
suddenly renewed, "for," said he, "we must have Lee in the same basket 
with Jeff Davis," believing, when he made the remark, that Davis had been 
captured by General Weitzel. 

Grant immediately energized his pursuit of Lee who, on the 
afternoon of April 9, surrendered his starved and shattered legions 
at Appomattox, precisely "as a purely military matter" without "de- 
ciding, discussing, or conferring upon any political subject." 

After this, seeing the inevitable was at hand, General Joseph 
E. Johnston sent overtures to General Sherman for terms of surren- 
der. A meeting was arranged and the two commanders (Johnston 
strictly representing "President" Davis, but Sherman acting in 
entire absence of instructions from and without the knowledge of 
Stanton or Grant) signed, in the presence of John C. Breckinridge, 
the Confederate secretary of war, a complete military arrangement, 
dated April 18, 1865 — a "Memorandum Basis of Agreement" for 
all the States of the Union, loyal and insurgent, as follows : 

*Stanton gave special instructions to Charles A. Dana with reference 
to Confederate records and documents. On the day of the evacuation Gen- 
eral G. F. Shepley was appointed military governor of Richmond and be- 
fore night had promulgated orders to capture and turn over to Provost- 
Marshal Manning all papers and records belonging to or relating to the 
Confederate government. History now knows the value of Stanton's 
wisdom in this respect. 


1. The contending armies in the field to maintain the status quo until 
notice is given by the commanding general of any one to his opponent, 
and reasonable time, say forty-eight hours, allowed. 

2. The Confederate armies now in existence to be disbanded and con- 
ducted to their several States and capitals, there to deposit their arms and 
public property in the State arsenal; and each officer and man to execute and 
file an agreement to cease from acts of war, and to abide the action of both 
State and Federal authority. The number of arms and munitions of war 
to be reported to the chief of ordnance at Washington City, subject to the 
future action of the Congress of the United States, and in the meantime to 
be used solely to maintain peace and order within the borders of the States 

3. The recognition by the President of the United States of the sev- 
eral State governments on their officers and legislatures taking the oath 
prescribed by the constitution of the United States; and where conflicting 
State governments have resulted from the war, the legitimacy of all shall 
be submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

4. The reestablishment of all Federal courts in the several States, with 
powers as defined by the constitution and the laws of Congress. 

5. The people and inhabitants of all States to be guaranteed, as far as 
the executive can, their political rights and franchises, as well as their 
rights of person and property, as defined by the constitution of the United 
Slates and of the States respectively. 

6. The executive authority of the Government of the United States 
not to disturb any of the people, by reason of the late war, so long as they 
live in quiet and peace, and abstain from acts of armed hostility, and obey 
the laws in existence at the place of their residence. 

7. In general terms, it is announced that the war is to cease; a gen- 
eral amnesty, so far as the executive of the United States can command, 
on condition of the disbandment of the Confederate armies, the distri- 
bution of arms, and the resumption of peaceful pursuits by officers and 
men hitherto composing said armies. Not being fully empowered by our 
respective principals to fulfill these terms, we individually and officially 
pledge ourselves to promptly obtain authority, and will endeavor to carry 
out the above program. 

This extraordinary "agreement," written almost entirely by J. 
H. Reagan, postmaster-general in the Confederate cabinet, and 
copied and amended a little for the worse by Sherman, was des- 
patched by sea to Grant (in Washington), who at once, on April 
21, transmitted it to Stanton. Andrew Johnson was now president ; 
Lincoln's cortege was moving slowly and sadly towards Springfield ; 
Secretary Seward lay at his home gashed by an assassin's knife ; the 
entire force of the secret service and portions of the army were 
scouring the country for Jefferson Davis or pursuing John Wilkes 
Booth ; and the people were in no temper to extend concessions of 


State sovereignty and insurgent supremacy to the rebellious sec- 

Stanton advised President Johnson to call a meeting of the 
cabinet at 8 o'clock that evening, which was done. He then returned 
to the War Department — for already he had determined a course of 
action — and began to prepare not only orders and instructions to 
supplant Sherman's political "agreement" with mere military terms 
of surrender, but a semi-ofBcial address giving the reasons therefor, 
which should also be an assurance to the people that he would cer- 
tainly so watch and supervise everything that the insurgents could 
not secure undue advantage in terms of surrender nor succeed in 
grasping by diplomacy what they had failed to win by battle. 

He paced the floor in suppressed excitement, reading again and 
again the terms of the "agreement," which he could scarcely credit, 
picturing the chaos and contention that must follow the sanction of 
an instrument which reversed the laws, annulled the proclamations, 
and neutralized the sacrifices and bloodshed of four years of war- 
fare. He wanted to make short work of the cabinet meeting; was 
eager to send ofif his orders and advise the people that no misstep 
would be permitted. 

When 8 o'clock arrived, he was ready with his telegrams and 
papers and, with overwhelming impetuosity, stated the case, out- 
lined his program, and enforced his views. No one was able to 
object ; his plan was confirmed, and he returned to the War De- 
partment to execute it, after requesting Grant to call a little later. 
"It was 9 o'clock at night," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, who was 
present, "when Mr. Stanton returned to the War Department from 
that cabinet meeting, and at once called in General Eckert and said 
to him : 'Hold all the telegraph offices of the country open till mid- 
night.' " 

General Grant then came into the Secretary's room and after 
some conversation received a letter of instructions and orders to 
go to Raleigh, N. C., and take charge of the army. He sailed that 
night for Raleigh in the steamer which brought the despatches from 
General Sherman. "He did not want to go," says Major Johnson, 
"and felt hurt in having to go." 

"General Grant did not wish to go in person to interfere with 
General Sherman," says Quartermaster-General M. C. Meigs. "He 
did not seem to consider the matter of much moment, and, at the 
worst, regarded the army as supreme in the land, 'agreement' or 


no 'agreement.' He hesitated and Mr. Stanton turned to me say- 
ing: 'General Meigs, you go with General Grant; my carriage is 
at the door.' I cheerfully assented and we drove rapidly to the 
wharf. The General said very little and seemed taciturn ; but, on 
returning, he was more cheerful and admitted guardedly that he 
'supposed Secretary Stanton was right.' " 

As soon as Grant departed for Raleigh, Stanton gave to the 
public by telegraph the Sherman-Johnston "agreement" and the 
following nine reasons (together with his telegram of March 3 to 
Grant) why that "agreement" had been rejected and the simple 
terms accorded by Grant to Lee substituted: 

1. It was an exercise of authority not vested in General Sherman, 
and, on its face, shows that both he and Johnston knew that General Sher- 
man had no authority to enter into any such an agreement. 

2. It was a practical acknowledgment of the rebel government. 

3. It undertook to reestablish State governments that had been over- 
thrown at the sacrifice of many thousands of loyal lives and an immense 
treasure, and placed arms and munitions of war in the hands of the rebels at 
their respective capitals, which might be used, as soon as the armies of the 
United States were disbanded, to conquer and subdue loyal States. 

4. By the restoration of rebel authority in their respective States,* 
they would be enabled to reestablish slavery. 

5. It might furnish a ground of responsibility on the part of the 
P'ederal Government to pay the rebel debt, and certainly subject loyal citi- 
zens of rebellious States to debts contracted by the rebels in the name of 
the State. 

6. It put in dispute the existence of loyal State governments, and the 
new State of West Virginia, which has been recognized by every depart- 
ment of the United States Government. 

7. It practically abolished confiscation laws, and relieved rebels of 
every degree, who have slaughtered our people, from all pains and penalties 
for their crimes. 

8. It gave terms that had been deliberately, repeatedly, and solemnly 
rejected by President Lincoln, and better terms than the rebels had ever 
asked in their most prosperous condition. 

9. It formed no basis of true and lasting peace, but relieved rebels 
from the presence of our victorious armies and left them in a condition to 
renew their efforts to overthrow the United States Government and sub- 

*In a letter from Raleigh to General J. E. Johnston, on April 21, 1865, 
General Sherman said, among other things of the same trend: "I shall look 
for General Hitchcock back from Washington on Wednesday and shall 
promptly notify you of the result. By the action of General Weitzel in 
relation to the Virginia legislature [see chapter XLVL], I feel certain we 
will have no trouble on the score of recognizing [Confederate] State gov- 


due the loyal States whenever their strength should be recruited and an 
opportunity offered.* 

Reaching Moorhead City, North Carolina, on April 23, Grant 
despatched the substance of Stanton's instructions to Sherman, who 
transmitted their purport to Johnston, adding a notification that 
the truce would close forty-eight hours after the receipt thereof and 
demanding that the Confederate army be forthwith surrendered. 
Johnston requested another conference, which was held on the 25th, 
when the terms of surrender accorded to Lee were agreed upon and 
approved by Grant. 

Sherman and his partisans and ]\IcClellan and his writers have 
been unsparing in their denunciation of the part Stanton played in 
this incident, yet no one has sustained the Secretary so thoroughly 
as Sherman himself. In a letter of April 15, to Stanton, he wrote : 
"I will give the same terms General Grant gave General Lee and 
be careful not to complicate any points of civil policy." 

Three days later, under the personal influence of General John- 
ston and John C. Breckinridge, he did the very thing he said he 
would not do, and, in transmitting his "agreement," wrote request- 
ing General Halleck to see President Johnson and "influence him, 
if possible, not to vary the terms at all, for I have considered every- 
thing!" He also requested Grant to ask the President to "commis- 
sion" him to "carry out the terms !" On the following day, before 
the terms were known outside of Richmond and his own staff, 
Sherman assumed them to be final and published a rejoicing order to 
the country announcing "an agreement with General Johnston and 
other high officials [Jefiferson Davis, John C. Breckinridge, and J. H. 
Reagan] which, when formally ratified, will make peace from the 
Potomac to the Rio Grande." Immediately afterward, having had 
his "agreement" peremptorily and entirely reversed and having re- 
ceived Grant's views, he wrote to Stanton on the 25th : "/ admit 
my folly in embracing in a military convention any civil mattcr."-\ Later 

*Jefferson Davis agreed exactly with Stanton as to the meaning of the 
terms of surrender. On April 23, while waiting for their approval at Wash- 
ington, he wrote: "To us they are hard enough, tho' freed from wanton 
humiliation and expressly recognizing the Confederate State governments, and 
the rights of persons and property [slaves] as secured by the constitution 
of the United States and of the several States." 

fOn April 27, the newspapers being filled with comments upon the 
'agreement," John Sherman wrote at length from Cleveland in behalf of 


the sledge-hammer character of the nine reasons, which were pre- 
pared and sent out without the knowledge of the President or the 
cabinet, began to dawn upon him, and a flood of furious censure by 
the press for having been "trapped" into signing the "agreement" 
came pouring in. 

Besides, Grant, who attended the cabinet meeting at which 
the terms were reversed, committed the grave breach of informing 
Sherman that in that meeting Stanton declared them to be "little 
short of treason." The General now became overwhelmingly in- 
censed. At the Grand Review, a few days afterwards, he undertook 
to avenge himself by publicly insulting Stanton, his superior, for 
having overridden, in the interest of their common country, what 
he himself, in his letter of April 25, had correctly described as his 

his brother, saying to Stanton among other things: "I am distressed be- 
yond measure at the terms granted to Johnston by General Sherman. They 
are inadmissible. I will gladly go to Washington or anywhere else where 
I can render the least service. I do not want General Sherman to be un- 
justly dealt with, and I know you will not permit it; and especially I do 
not want him drawn into fellowship with the copperheads. You can, if you 
choose, show this to the President, or indeed to any one " 


Assistant-Secretary C. A. Dana, with Quartermaster-General 
]\I. C. Meigs, was at City Point when the President entered Rich- 
mond after its fall, during the morning of April 4, 1865. In the col- 
umns of the paper announcing his coming was an official statement 
that Lincoln had instructed General Godfrey Weitzel to permit the 
insurgent legislature of Virginia to assemble at once.* 

General Meigs discovered the announcement and handed it to 
Dana, who despatched the facts to Stanton. On receiving them 
Stanton telegraphed private instructions to Dana to prevent Gen- 
eral Weitzel from taking any action under the "permit" until further 
orders. Lincoln returned (at Stanton's confidential request) and 
consulted with Stanton, when General Weitzel was ordered to coun- 
termand the "permit." 

Judge Campbell, in a written report to the insurgent legisla- 
ture, concerning his interview with Lincoln, avers that the Presi- 
dent stated : "If the government of Virginia will administer the 
laws in connection with the authority of the United States, no 
attempt will be made to establish or sustain any other authority." 
Here was one of the great political crises of the war, and Stanton 

♦Before the night of the day on which Richmond fell, Lincoln had a 
long conference with John A. Campbell (a justice of the United States 
Supreme Court, who had resigned in 1861 to cast his fortunes with the Con- 
federacy) in reference to rehabilitating the State of Virginia by means of a 
"permit" which (together with a guiding memorandum to Judge Campbell) 
he gave to General Weitzel as follows: "It is intimated to me that the gen- 
tlemen who have acted as the legislature in support of the Rebellion may 
now desire to assemble at Richmond and take measures to withdraw the 
Virginia troops and other support of resistance to the general Government. 
If they attempt it, give them permission and protection, until, if at all, they 
attempt some act hostile to the United States in which case you will notify 
them, give them reasonable time to leave, and at the end of which time 
arrest any one who remains. Allow Judge Campbell to see this, but do 
not matce it public." 


lifted the administration and the nation from the engulfing danger 
by main strength.* 

Had the legislature been allowed to assemble and proceed un- 
bridled as if nothing had happened since 1860, a precedent would 
have b^en set for recognizing all the insurgent legislatures — in not 
one of which could be found a Union man — and the fruits of the 
war would have been nullified. 

Lincoln alone failed to see the import of his blunder. The sub- 
officers of the army saw it; the Confederates understood and 
planned for it, and General Sherman quoted it as a justification for 
the destructive terms of surrender which he had just offered to 
General J. E. Johnston. In his letter of April 23, 1865 (before he 
had received Stanton's reversal of his terms or was aware that the 
permit to assemble the insurgent legislature of Virginia had been 
countermanded). General Sherman wrote to Johnston: "I send you 
a late paper showing that the Virginia State authorities are acknowl- 
edged and invited to resume their lazvftd functions." Lincoln and 
Sherman labored under the same disability ; they could not see that 
an insurgent and absolutely unlawful legislature never could have, 
under the Government they had rebelled against, any "lawful func- 
tions" to "resume." 

The latter has suffered severely in history on account of his 
attempt to fix the political status of the rebellious sections by a 
mere military stipulation with an insurgent commander ; yet Sher- 
man was only a soldier, whose terms could be, as they were, re- 
versed and annulled, while Lincoln was president of the United 
States and commander-in-chief of the army and navy, with supreme 
discretion in military affairs. Therefore, when, by the secret letter 
to General Weitzel, he undertook to hand over to the Virginia legis- 
lature that which the Confederate armies had been unable to secure 
by four years of war, he entered the vortex leading to destruction, 
for there was no one above him to countermand his orders. 

Stanton, however, always potential in emergencies, urged his 
return to Washington, freed his mind from error and prevented a 
political catastrophe. Stanton alone understood Lincoln ; he alone 

*"I received instructions from Mr. Stanton," says Charles A. Dana, then 
assistant secretary of war, "to gather all papers, information, and documents 
I could find at the fall of Richmond and to keep as close as possible to Mr. 
Lincoln for the purpose of watching and reporting. The great end was near 
and Mr. Stanton was determined to prevent steps or proceedings of any 
kind that might prove destructive or embarrassing in the future." 

Gen. John M. Schofiei, 


possessed the courage to prevent the President's misconception from 
reinvolving the Government in blood. Congress made an investiga- 
tion of the matter, during which Stanton, under oath, testified inter- 
estingly as follows : 

The order of Mr. Lincoln on April 12, on file in the War Department, 
is the last order he ever made of which I have any knowledge. It was the 
last time he was in the War Department. 

Immediately after the capture of Richmond, Mr. Lincoln went to that 
city and some intercourse took place between him and Judge Campbell, 
formerly of the Supreme Court of the United States, and General Weitzel, 
which resulted in the call of the rebel legislature to Richmond. Mr. Lin- 
coln, on his return from Richmond to Washington, reconsidered the mat- 

The policy of undertaking to restore the Government through the me- 
dium of rebel organization was vehemently opposed by me. I had several very 
earnest conversations with Mr. Lincoln upon the subject and advised him 
that any effort to reorganize the Government should be under Federal au- 
thority solely, treating the rebel organizations and government as abso- 
lutely null and void. 

On the day preceding his death a conversation took place between him, 
the Attorney-General, and myself upon that subject at the executive man- 
sion. After an hour or two, during the middle of the afternoon, Mr. Lin- 
coln came over to the War Department and renewed the conversation. After 
I had repeated my reasons against allowing the rebel legislature to as- 
semble, or the rebel organizations to have any participation whatever in 
the business of reorganization, he sat down at my desk and wrote a tele- 
gram to General Weitzel and handed it to me, saying: "There, I think that 
will suit you." 

I told him no, it did not go far enough; that the members of the rebel 
legislature would probably come to Richmond and that General Weitzel 
ought to be directed to prohibit any such assembling. 

He took up his pen again and made the alteration and signed the tele- 
gram. He handed it to me. I said, that, I thought, was exactly right. It 
was transmitted immediately to General Weitzel, and was the last act that 
was ever performed by Mr. Lincoln in the War Department. 

Some of the other rebel States, after the surrender of the rebel armies, 
called together their legislatures, and, either pursuant to instructions from 
the War Department or on their own discretion, the commandants pro- 
hibited the assembling of those bodies. 

The rebel authorities were all overthrown and destroyed, as I under- 
stood the case, by the war, by the capture of their armies and their States. 

The only witness of the last great interview between Lincoln 
and Stanton, the interview which saved the nation from Charybdis 
and the President from ignominy, is Major A. E. H. Johnson, who 


thus comprehensively describes the momentous occasion from pre- 
cious notes taken by him on the spot : 

In the afternoon about 5 o'clock the President came over to the War 
Department, and it was while sitting on the sofa in the Secretary's room 
looking towards my desk, that Mr. Stanton told the President why he should 
not turn over the determination of such grave matters to the Virginia legis- 
lature. It was then that Mr. Stanton again urged his plea that the reorgani- 
zation of the seceded States should be under Federal authority. He told the 
President that the conqueror and not the conquered should control the State 
in the matter which was vital for all time; that to place such powers in the 
Virginia legislature would be giving away the scepter of the conqueror; that 
it would transfer the result of victory of our arms from the field to the very 
legislatures which four years before had said, "give us war"; that it would 
put the Government in the hands of its enemies; that it would surely bring 
trouble with Congress; that the people would not sustain him; that it would 
disturb the harmony between the executive and Congress; that reconstruc- 
tion would have to deal with the new conditions of things, among 
which would be a change in the basis of representation now that all the 
blacks were free; that it would have to deal with the debts of the Federal 
and the Confederate Governments; that in all this the Southern legislatures 
would be in the ascendency, and the political power of the South increased; 
that the fate of the emancipated millions would be solely under the con- 
trol of such legislatures; that the result of the war would go for nothing 
if those results were to be determined by the enemies of the Government; 
that it would be better to have nothing to do with the rebel legislatures; that 
the Virginia legislature was dead and could not again assemble at Rich- 
mond without permission of the Government, and to bring to life a dead 
legislature would bring endless trouble to the Government and to recon- 
struction; that, in fact, it would defeat any reconstruction, because Con- 
gress would not sanction any government established by it; that, being 
once assembled, its deliberations could not be confined to any specific acts, 
and that to disperse it would produce another rebellion; that the Virginia 
legislature should be ignored even in the capacity of its members as citi- 
zens for any purpose. 

In pleading with the President — I can see the Secretary now, earnest 
and full of feeling and the President listening in profound thought, saying 
not a word — the Secretary's manner was not his usual manner; it was argu- 
mentative. The President had no story to illustrate his position or that 
of his Secretary. It was a solemn occasion, and upon that interview hung 
the destiny of reconstruction, of peace, and orderly government for the 
Southern people, and Mr. Stanton prevailed! 


On Tuesday, April 4, following the fall of Richmond, Wash- 
ington was wild with music, guns, speeches, rockets, and bonfires. 
The War Department was the center of attraction. The building 
was alive with fire from basement to tholus, and in the court colored 
lights of immense power turned a complete drapery of silken flags 
into a bower of patriotic splendor. In the center, jets of flame gave 
life to the words, "THE UNION: IT MUST AND SHALL BE 
PRESERVED." Beneath this motto a spirited American eagle 
grasped in his beak the significant word, "RICHMOND." Stan- 
ton's residence was superbly decorated with flags, flowers, ever- 
greens, lanterns, and gas jets and was visited by thousands of people 
who cheered and serenaded the Secretary repeatedly. 

At 9 :20 on the evening of the 9th, Stanton received a telegram 
from Grant advising him officially of the capitulation of Lee. As 
soon as he had sent bulletins of the glorious news to General Dix 
in New York, and forwarded the famous telegram of thanks to 
Grant, he ''Ordered, That a salute of two hundred guns be fired at the 
headquarters of every army and Department and at every post and 
arsenal in the United States and at the Military Academy at West 
Point, on the receipt of this order, in commemoration of the surren- 
der of General R. E. Lee and the army of Northern Virginia to 
Lieutenant-General Grant and the army under his command." 
States, cities, towns, villages, and crossroads hastened to recognize 
the order and thus began, with the mightiest roar of artillery ever 
heard on the continent, the second celebration which culminated in 
Washington on the 12th. 

Again Stanton led and again the War Department and the Sec- 
retary's residence fixed the standard in the art of patriotic decora- 
tion. The windows of the Department were solid sheets of light ; 
the front was covered with flags, banners, evergreens, and corps 
badges ; over the balcony was a large semi-circle of binnocles ; be- 
neath the arc, in letters of flame, was the word, "GRANT," 


Music, speeches, parades, and fireworks entertained the masses 
everywhere and three military bands and a vast concourse of people 
gathered about his residence to do special honor to Stanton. Thrice 
the multitude raised a great shout and thrice he led forth General 
Grant (who was his guest) to receive the resounding acclaims that 
were intended for himself ! 

On the evening of the 13th the third and final illumination took 
place, far surpassing previous efiforts in variety, design, and extent. 
Even men who had been supposed to be disloyal became infected 
with the general enthusiasm and decorated their houses. Arling- 
ton, across the Potomac from Washington, the splendid estate of 
General Lee that had been confiscated by the Government, was 
magnificently illuminated, in tragic contrast to the fate of the form- 
er owner ; the streets and outlets were ablaze with bonfires, and 
speeches, marching bands, and military manoeuvres enlivened the 
parks and avenues. 

As before, the War Department was the center of attraction 
and admiration and again the Secretary's residence was gorgeously 
decorated and illuminated. In the midst of myriads of lights, flags, 
wreaths, and ensigns with which the War Department building was 
covered, the name of Grant again shone in sheets of fire above the 
portico ; while high over all, as if suspended by unseen hands from 
above, in letters of softly subdued light, hung the sweet and healing 
word, "PEACE." 

The war was over. The iron hand that had pursued and smote 
with fearful energy now led all others in hoisting over the very 
heart of military power the gracious banner of reconciliation. 
Amidst the roar, the flame, and the blaze of triumphant rejoicing, 
Stanton did not forget the South. He held aloft, so they might be- 
hold it above the noisy blare of victory, the guiding star of hope to 
cheer them amidst the ashes of their defeat and invite them back 
to fraternity, unity, prosperity, and greatness. 

The following day, April 14, under Stanton's orders, the officers 
of the Federal Government, with elaborate ceremonial, raised over 
the ruins of Fort Sumter the flag that, four years ago on that day, 
had been struck down by the opening assaults of armed secession. 
General Robert Anderson, who commanded on April 14, 1861, was 
present and unfurled the stained but triumphant banner over the 
battered citadel, and Henry Ward Beecher delivered his great peace 


In the evening-, after the celebration, General Gilmore, in com- 
mand of the Charleston district, gave a dinner at the Charleston 
House to the Government's guests. Joseph Holt was present to 
represent Stanton and when, in an eloquent and patriotic address, he 
referred to the "lion-like courage" with which the great Secretary- 
had "fought the Rebellion in all the vicissitudes of its career," there 
was enthusiastic cheering. 

Stanton had suggested that the same commander (Anderson) 
hoist the same old flag and the same chaplain (Reverend Mr. Har- 
ris) offer prayer at the rehabilitation in order to "put things back as 
they were four years before," thus vindicating "Old Glory" and add- 
ing double emphasis to the idea of an indestructible Union. 

Originally he expected to attend the celebration, but had re- 
cently been compelled to avert so many catastrophes that he feared 
to leave Washington, and said to Joseph Holt: "I cannot go. It 
is not safe. No one can tell what may happen. You go and stand 
and speak for me, and God's blessing be upon the gallant officers 
who will be there and upon the flag and the nation !" 

At the very moment that Judge Holt was standing and speak- 
ing as ordered at old Sumter, one assassin was lurking in Stanton's 
vestibule, another was cutting at the throat of Seward, and the third 
sent a death-shot through the brain of President Lincoln ! 



For nearly two years there was an active conspiracy to kidnap 
President Lincoln and his cabinet.* At one time the conspirators 
believed they had their hands on Stanton and at least twice they 
could have made off with Lincoln ; but no opportunity ever offered 
for executing the plan to capture the entire executive force at a 
single sortie. 

A plan to kidnap Stanton and take him to Richmond was en- 
trusted to a secession band with headquarters on the Saunders farm 
in West Virginia, about six miles from the Ohio River. A sharp and 
nervy young woman made regular trips to Steubenville, Ohio, for 
the purpose of reporting to the band any visit which Stanton might 
be about to make to that city. She was frequently accompanied by 
a neighbor of Union sentiments named W. R. Burgoyne (now of 
Steubenville), who was aware that she was doing secret work for 
the Confederates. Finally, she learned that Stanton had arrived and 
intended on Saturday to accompany Dr. William Stanton over the 
river into West Virginia. Arrangements were made to capture 
him, but an urgent telegram from Washington caused him to return 
forthwith. Thus he escaped. "I learned years afterward from a 
leading secessionist," says Mr. Burgoyne, "that the preparations 
made to take Mr. Stanton to Richmond were so ample that failure 
would have been practically out of the question." 

The executive head of the kidnapping movement was John 
Wilkes Booth, a mercurial, high-strung, and convivial actor, whose 

*A body of preachers called upon Stanton and suggested that if Jef- 
ferson Davis were captured and brought to the Old Capitol Prison, the 
Rebellion would soon fall to pieces; and that they wished personally to aid 
in the venture. In order to satisfy his callers, who were headed by the 
Reverend Byron Sunderland, Stanton ordered Colonel W. P. Wood to 
Richmond to investigate the project. In about a week Wood reported that 
the scheme was impracticable and undignified, and that ended the matter. 

Abraham Lincoln. 


secession sentiments were so intense as to almost unbalance his 
mind. His backers advocated kidnapping; he himself preferred poi- 
soning. He wrote with a diamond on a pane of glass in a hotel at 
Meadville, Pennsylvania : "Abraham Lincoln departed this life in 
November, 1864, by poison." Although prolific in plans and threats, 
he constantly failed in execution. However, the fall of Richmond, 
the surrender of Lee, and the flight of Jefferson Davis, accentuated 
by the tumultuous and exultant celebration in Washington which 
followed those events, raised him to an unusual pitch of frenzy. He 
passed rapidly from place to place in Washington, drinking heavily 
and talking vengeance vehemently. 

Shortly before noon of the day of the assassination (April 14), 
he met John Francis Coyle, editor of the National Intelligencer, and 
invited him to join in a bottle of wine at the Club. While they were 
partaking, Booth declaimed angrily against the Government and the 
North, exclaiming: 

"Coyle, what would happen if Lincoln were removed?" 

"You would have Andrew Johnson, not so good a man as Lin- 
coln, for president." 

"What if Andrew Johnson, too, were dead?" 

"The president of the Senate would succeed as president." 

"What if Lincoln, his cabinet^ and all the constitutional succes- 
sors were out of the way?" 

"You would have anarchy — but what are you talking about? 
There are no Brutuses in these days." 

"That's so ; no Brutuses in these days." 

Here the conversation ended and the acquaintances parted, 
the incident passing at once out of Mr. Coyle's mind. "Booth," 
says Mr. Coyle, "was of peculiar temperament. He was crazy on 
secession. My wife, a native of Baltimore, was a hearty secession- 
ist, and Booth frequently came to the house to draw comfort from 
her, talking the same wild nonsense, as I always supposed, that 
characterized his conversation with me at the Club. I never at- 
tached the lightest weight to his vaporings and never had a thought 
that he was not harmless." 

Wrought up intensely by the trend of affairs, Booth continued 
his libations and very soon afterwards, perhaps at 3 o'clock P, M., 
having seen an announcement that Lincoln and Grant would attend 
the theatre that night, brought his accomplices swiftly together and 
gave orders for them to execute, as previously agreed and rehearsed, 


their respective parts in the bloody deed which a few hours later 
shocked all mankind. 

His plan, which recently had been cha*nged from kidnapping to 
murder, was to assassinate President Lincoln, Vice-President John- 
son, General Grant, Stanton, and others of the cabinet, and thus 
bring on, as Coyle had explained to him, a reign of anarchy. 

For startling climax, history affords hardly a parallel to this 
over-awing tragedy. Richmond, the Confederate capital, had fallen ; 
Lee had surrendered and his starving men and horses were being 
fed by Grant's commissaries ; "President" Davis was skulking 
through the Southern forests ; the old flag, amidst toasts, songs, and 
banquet speeches, was being hoisted over Fort Sumter by the same 
hands that, four years before, were forced by secession bombard- 
ment to haul it down; the Federal capital was a scene of unmatched 
jubilation; Stanton, throwing off his iron mask, was trotting about 
in exhilarated joy; Lincoln was disporting himself in boyish glee, 
and cannons were booming, bands playing, bonfires burning, pro- 
cessions marching, flags flying, congregations giving thanks, and 
the masses singing and shouting from ocean to ocean. 

At such a moment. Booth, whose ill-balanced brain was fired 
with brandy, entered Ford's Theatre on Tenth Street, in which he 
had often been an actor, where Lincoln and his party were enjoying 
"Our American Cousin." Advancing to the Presidential box, for 
he knew the way perfectly, he placed the pistol close to the Presi- 
dent's head and fired. The explosion was not loud and attracted no 
attention, the audience supposing that it emanated properly from 
the stage. 

Simultaneously with an outcry from the box a moment later, 
Booth leaped to the footlights, the concussion breaking his ankle 
and throwing him nearly prostrate.* Swinging his pistol aloft from 
his recumbent position, he shouted, "Sic Semper Tyrannis !" Then, 
scrambling to his feet and limping from the stage, he reached and 
mounted a horse held in waiting in the alley and rode at breakneck 
speed over the eastern branch of the Potomac to Mrs. Surratt's 
hotel at Surrattsville. 

At practically the same moment Lewis Payne secured entrance 
to the house where Secretary Seward was confined by a recent acci- 

*If, as he leaped, he had not caught his foot in the American flag and 
stumbled, Booth would not have broken his ankle, and if he had not been 
crippled he might have successfully escaped, 


dent and assaulted him furiously with a poinard. Frederick W. 
Seward and an attendant (Robinson), who ran to the rescue, were 
also gashed. 

General Grant escaped by leaving the city for Burlington, New 
Jersey, a few hours before the moment fixed for his assassination, 
and a disabled door-bell on Stanton's house saved the Secretary of 
War. Hudson Taylor of Poughkeepsie, New York, then a resident 
of Washington, saw the conspirator attempt to enter Stanton's 
house at the hour fixed for the attack. 

"I was tired out and went home early," says Stanton, "and was 
in the back room playing with the children when the man came to 
my steps. If the door-bell had rung it would have been answered 
and the man admitted, and I no doubt would have been attacked ; 
but the bell-wire was broken a day or two before, and though we 
had endeavored to have it repaired, the bell-hanger had put it off 
because of a pressure of orders." 

Those who were to assassinate Vice-President Johnson and 
the remaining members of the cabinet either lost their courage or 
were prevented by insurmountable circumstances — probably over- 
intoxication — from executing the parts assigned to them. 

Stanton was informed by a messenger of the bloody work at 
Seward's house, whither he sped with all haste. Finding Mr. Sew- 
ard alive and learning there that Lincoln had been shot, he sprang 
into the headquarters of General C. C. Augur (next to Seward's 
house) to leave orders for him, as military governor, to be alert with 
his forces for any possible emergency, and then ran to the theatre 
on Tenth Street. The entire vicinity was choked with people who, 
recognizing the Secretary, parted and permitted him to enter the 
house opposite the theatre, owned by William Petersen, to which 
Lincoln had been transferred. 

No words can describe the situation at this moment. Not a 
sound was uttered — hardly a head was covered ; the air seemed to 
breathe impending anarchy ; the vast throng stood ready for ven- 

The supposition was universal that the assassination was the 
signal for a new uprising of the Confederacy ; that the hostile pow- 
ers which were supposed to be in their expiring agony had suddenly 
risen from an assumed comatose condition to strike a supreme blow. 
A general secession attack from secret quarters was momentarily 
expected, and the people nerved themselves to meet it. Thousands 


of Union soldiers who had recently arrived in the city came out 
armed as if by magic, as did all private citizens. Throughout the 
District the mysterious call of the Union* League — two short, sharp 
raps thrice repeated — sent every member double-quick to headquar- 
ters to declare himself ready for duty. The long roll at the barracks 
of the Black Horse squadron (the President's body-guard) startled 
the residents in that vicinity and brought the troopers flying to the 
center. Every Federal officer and soldier in the District sprang to 
duty; the entire police force was out and the agents of the Secret 
Service swarmed the alleys and scouted the roads leading out of 
the city. 

Stanton instantly assumed charge of everything near and re- 
mote, civil and military, and began issuing orders in that autocratic 
manner so supremely necessary to the occasion and so perfectly 
true to his methods, giving, during that strained and terrible night, 
an exhibition of the great qualities which had been potential in sav- 
ing the nation. 

That he should have been present thus to act as dictator is an 
interesting manifestation of public fortune. He had expected to 
deliver a speech at the celebration and flag-raising at Fort Sumter 
arranged for the same night. Some intuition led him to send Joseph 
Holt in his stead, to whom he said : "Something admonishes me to 
remain," and on that admonition he remained! 

Officers stationed at the door allowed no one to enter and 
squads of soldiers kept clear the space immediately in front of the 
Petersen house. Stanton sent for David K. Cartter, chief justice of 
the District of Columbia, who, arriving at once, began in an adjoin- 
ing room to take the testimony of those who possessed any knowl- 
edge concerning the tragedy. Simultaneously he ordered the pres- 
ence of Charles A. Dana, assistant secretary of war, who, being a 
good stenographic writer,* wrote from dictation telegrams to all 
parts of the country. 

*"That night," says Mr. Dana, "I was awakened from a sound sleep 
with the news that Mr. Lincoln had been shot and that the Secretary wanted 
me. I found the President lying unconscious, though breathing heavily, on 
a bed in a small side room, while all the members of the cabinet and the 
Chief Justice with them, were gathered in the adjoining parlor. They 
seemed to be almost as much paralyzed as the unconscious sufferer within 
the little chamber. Mr. Stanton alone was in full activity. 

" 'Sit down here,' said he, 'I want you.' 

"Then he began to dictate orders one after another, which I wrote 


He sent for several army officers to act as aides ; directed Gen- 
eral Thomas M. Vincent (assistant adjutant-general) to take charge 
of aflfairs in the Petersen building; telegraphed to General Grant at 
Philadelphia that Lincoln had been shot and to return at once to 
Washington ; issued orders, oral and written, to the police and 
military authorities of the District to be prepared for emergencies; 
telegraphed to Chief Kennedy of New York to send on his best de- 
tectives immediately ; ordered General L. C. Baker to return from 
New York to search for the assassins ; soothed and cheered Mrs. 
Lincoln ; advised Grant (at 11 :30) at Philadelphia to watch every 
person approaching him and have a detached locomotive precede his 
train on its way to Washington ; ordered President Garrett to use 
the utmost speed of the Baltimore and Ohio Railway to bring Grant 
to the capital ; wrote and despatched a note to Chief Justice Chase, 
saying the President could not live and to be ready to administer the 
oath of office to Vice-President Johnson ; notified the Vice-Presi- 
dent that the President was dying; and sent to the people bulletin 
after bulletin concerning the tragedy and Lincoln's condition. 

The bulletins are models of directness and comprehension. 
The first, written with his hat for a support, says Colonel A. F. 
Rockwell, and sent at 11:30 P. M., is as follows: 

This evening at 9:30 o'clock, at Ford's Theatre, the President, while 
sitting in his private box with Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Harris, and Major Rath- 
bone, was shot by an assassin who entered the box and approached behind 
the President. The person then leaped upon the stage, brandishing a large 
dagger or knife, and made his escape in the rear of the theatre. 

The pistol ball entered the back of the President's head, and penetrated 
nearly through it. The wound is mortal. The President has been insensible 
ever since it was inflicted, and is now dying. 

About the same hour an assassin, whether the same or not, entered Mr. 
Seward's apartment, and, under a pretense of having a prescription, was 
shown to the Secretary's sick chamber. The assassin immediately rushed 
to the bed and inflicted two or three stabs on the throat and two on the 
face. It is hoped that the wounds may not be mortal. My apprehension 
is that they will prove fatal. 

The nurse alarmed Mr. Frederick Seward, who, from an adjoining 
room, hastened to the door of his father's, where he met the assassin, who 
inflicted upon him one or more dangerous wounds. The recovery of Fred- 

out and sent swiftly to the telegraph. All these orders were required to 
keep the business of the Government in full motion till the crisis should be 
over. It was perhaps 2 o'clock in the morning before he said, 'That's 
enough. Now go home.' " 



erick Seward is doubtful. It is not probable that the President will live 
through the night. 

General Grant and his wife were advertieed to be at the theatre this 
evening, but he started to Burlington at 6 o'clock. 

This evening, at a cabinet meeting, at which General Grant was present, 
the subject of the state of the country and the prospect of a speedy peace 
was discussed. The President was very cheerful and hopeful, and spoke 
very kindly of General Lee and others of the Confederacy and of the es- 
tablishment of the government in Virginia. All the members of the cabi- 
net, except Mr. Seward, are waiting upon the President. 

I have seen Mr. Seward, but he and Frederick were both unconscious. 

At about 1 :30 in the morning, being satisfied that Lincoln 
could not last much longer, he wrote a formal notification of the 
death of the President to Vice-President Johnson, upon whom the 
constitution devolved the office of chief-magistrate. Coming into 
the adjoining room, he handed the paper to General Vincent with 
orders to make a fair copy of it.* Thereupon Mrs. Lincoln, whose 
eyes followed Stanton's every move as the master-spirit of that 
heart-breaking night, sprang forward with a hysterical scream : "Is 
he dead? Oh, is he dead?" Stanton, as he had been doing, reas- 
sured and comforted the distracted woman,t but with indifferent 
success, as the steps she could see him swiftly taking told more 
plainly than words that the worst was known and the end was near. 

Thus he continued throughout the night, acting as president, 
secretary of war, secretary of state, commander-in-chief, comforter, 

*The closing portion of the notification said: "By the death of Presi- 
dent Lincoln the office of president has devolved under the constitution 
upon you. The emergency of the Government demands that you shall im- 
mediately qualify according to the requirements of the constitution, and 
enter upon the discharge of the duties of president of the United States." 
The hour of death was filled into a blank left for that purpose as soon as 
Dr. Barnes announced that Lincoln was dead. A few minutes later, at the 
meeting of cabinet ministers, another paper (signed by Stanton, McCul- 
loch, Dennison, Welles, Speed, and Usher) was drafted which informed 
Vice-President Johnson that "if you will make known your pleasure, such 
arrangements as you may deem proper will be made." 

tSays General Vincent: "I cannot recall a more pitiful picture than 
that of poor Mrs. Lincoln, almost insane with sudden agony, moaning and 
sobbing out that terrible night. Mr. Stanton attempted to soothe her, but 
he was full of business, and knew, moreover, that in a few hours at most 
she must be a widow. She entered the room where her husband lay mo- 
tionless but once before the surgeon announced that death was fast descend- 
ing, and then fainted and was practically helpless." 


and dictator. No one thought of questioning his authority nor hesi- 
tated to carry out his orders. 

"After Lincoln's death the Government had no other head than 
Stanton," says Henry L. Dawes. 

"I was profoundly impressed with Secretary Stanton's bearing 
all through that eventful night," says Colonel A. F. Rockwell. 
"While evidently swayed by the great shock which held us all under 
its paralyzing influence, he was not only master of himself but un- 
mistakably the dominating power over all. Indeed, the members 
of the cabinet, much as children might to their father, instinctively 
deferred to him in all things." 

At 7 :22 in the morning of April 15, 1865, Lincoln, unconscious 
from the first,* gently ceased to breathe. Stanton touched the Rev- 
erend Mr. Gurley on the arm and said : "Doctor, please lead in 
prayer." The request was complied with amidst sobs and tears — 
the most affecting incident in the first supreme tragedy in American 

The army and judicial officers, surgeons and others who had 
been requested or permitted to gather during the night, then filed 
out weeping. Surgeon-General Barnes tenderly drew a sheet over 
the face of the martyr and Stanton, as he darkened the windows, 
said impressively : "He now belongs to the ages." 

All the members save Mr. Seward being present, he imme- 
diately called a meeting of the cabinet in a room adjoining the re- 
mains. They consulted standing. Stanton disclosed the notifica- 
tion to Vice-President Johnson and suggested that, as Mr. Lincoln's 
body would soon be removed to the White House, the first meeting 
with the new President, which should be held as soon as he had 
been sworn in, be appointed for the Treasury Department. That 
being understood, upon Mr. Stanton's intimation, all agreed to ofTer 
to resign whenever convenient to Mr. Johnson, or, if he should wish, 
to remain in office. Thereupon, having instructed Colonel L. H. 
Pelouze to tell Assistant-Secretary Dana to order the arrest of 

*Says Colonel A. F. Rockwell, who was present: "During twenty 
minutes preceding the death of the President, Mr. Stanton stood quite mo- 
tionless, leaning his chin upon his left hand, his right hand holding his hat 
and supporting his left elbow, the tears falling continually. There was one 
impressive incident which involves an interesting query: When the death 
of the President was announced, Mr. Stanton slowly and with apparent 
deliberation straightened out his right arm, placed his hat for an instant 
on his head and then as deliberately returned it to its original position." 


Jacob Thompson (his associate in Buchanan's cabinet) and the 
poHce and military authorities to take the utmost precautions for 
the safety of General Grant, Stanton committed the dead to the espe- 
cial care of General Vincent and, following the example of his col- 
leagues, drove to his residence for breakfast. 

"As he stood at the door ready to enter his carriage," says Gen- 
eral Vincent, "he handed me his military cloak saying: 'Take this; 
you will need it. I shall ride home and can do without it.' 

"Turning back into the house I entered the room where Mr. Lin- 
coln lay, accompanied by Colonel Rutherford, who remained with 
me. On lifting the sheet, I saw that Mr. Lincoln's eyes were open 
— producing a sensation that will be vivid in my mind as long as 
I live. Colonel Rutherford produced a coin and I did the same, and, 
closing the eyes, I placed the coins upon them. A few minutes later 
a conveyance to carry the remains to the White House arrived and 
my sad, sad duties were ended." 



Although he had not closed his eyes during the night, Stanton 
did not seek rest after Lincoln sank to sleep on the morning of April 
15, but prepared a long message to United States Minister C. F. 
Adams at London ; consulted with Vice-President Johnson at the 
Kirkwood House during the forenoon ; attended the ceremony of 
swearing in the new President ; participated in a cabinet meeting, 
and then devoted the night to giving directions for the capture of 
Booth. Although he telegraphed to General Dix that his "Depart- 
ment had information that the President's murder was organized in 
Canada and approved in Richmond," he evidently was not as certain 
as President Johnson seemed to be, that Jefferson Davis was person- 
ally involved in the assassination, for the name of the insurgent 
"President" was not included in his proclamation offering rewards : 

War Department Washington, April 20. 1865. 

1101.000 imm 



or our late beloved President. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 


$50,000 REWARD! 

$25,000 REWARD! 
$25,bo6' REWARD! 


EDWIN M. STANTON, Seerttary of War. 


There was no authority of law for the foregoing, but his re- 
wards were assumed and paid by Congress ; and President Johnson's 
subsequent offer of one hundred thousand dollars for the capture of 
Jefferson Davis as the alleged chief procurer of the murder of Lin- 
coln was also paid, although the prisoner was never tried on that or 
any other charge. 

On April 26, Booth was shot by Boston Corbett while resisting 
arrest, and, at about the same time, Lewis Payne, Dr. Samuel T. 
]\Iudd, Edward Spangler, Michael O'Laughlin, D. C. Harrold, 
George B. Atzerot, and Samuel Arnold, accomplices, together with 
Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, whose house in Washington had been a long- 
time rendezvous of the conspirators, were apprehended.* 

Booth's diary and personal effects (among them the Confeder- 
ate cipher code) were turned over to Stanton at his residence and 
the prisoners closely confined on gunboats in the middle of the Po- 
tomac River,f especial watch being kept over Payne, who confessed 
to General Eckert that just half of the conspirators had been cap- 
tured. Those who were undiscovered then still remain unknown. 

On May 1, Attorney-General Speed having decided that the 
assassins were triable by a military commission, President Johnson 
ordered a detail of "nine competent military officers," with Joseph 
Holt for advocate-general ; John A. Bingham, special advocate-gen- 
eral ; Henry L. Burnett, special assistant ; and General John F. 
Hartranft, provost marshal, to act as such commission. 

The trial began in the old arsenal in Washington on May 10 
(the day on which Jefferson Davis was captured) and was con- 
cluded on June 30, with a verdict of guilty — Mary E. Surratt, Lewis 
Payne, D. C. Harrold, and George B. Atzerot to be hanged and the 

*Dr. Robert I. Porter of Bridgeport, Connecticut, says: "The body of 
Booth was taken in a row boat to the arsenal in the District of Columbia 
and in the dead of night, in the presence of the store-keeper, four soldiers, 
and myself, was so secretly hidden that the place never has been cor- 
rectly described. We were ordered by Secretary Stanton to maintain 
silence and we have obeyed the order strictly to this day. The body was 
finally given to the Booth family under agreement that its resting place 
should never be marked." 

f'The Secretary of War requests that the prisoners on board the iron- 
clads, for better security against conversation, shall have canvas bags placed 
over their heads, tied about the neck, with holes for proper breathing and 
eating, but not seeing, and that Payne be secured to prevent self-destruc- 


others imprisoned. President Johnson on July 4 fixed the execution 
for Friday, July 7, but the warrants were not issued or known until 
the following morning, so that the culprits had only forty hours in 
which to prepare for death. 

The friends of Mrs. Surratt made a strenuous effort for at least 
a reprieve, but Johnson refused to see any one in her behalf, direct- 
ing General R. D. Mussey, his private secretary, to say to all callers 
that if they possessed additional evidence to present it to Judge 
Holt. Mrs. Stephen A. Douglas alone succeeded in reaching the 
President, but her appeal was futile.* 

Father Walter of Washington, believing Mrs. Surratt, who was 
a member of his church, had been too severely condemned, was 
particularly active in her interest. Knowing his sincerity, Stanton 
sent General James A. Hardie (also a Catholic) to suggest to him 
the inadvisability of continuing efforts in her behalf in the absence 
of fresh and exculpating evidence. Father Walter refused to desist, 
whereupon Stanton sent General W, S. Hancock, in command of 
the post where Mrs. Surratt was confined, to consult with Bishop 
Spalding in Baltimore, who, seeing the ineptitude of an attempt to 
personally interfere with the processes of a duly constituted court, 
forwarded a telegram to Father Walter which had the desired 
effect. Thereupon Mrs. Surratt's attorneys presented to Judge An- 
drew Wylie, of the court of the District of Columbia, at 2 o'clock 
in the morning of the day fixed for the execution, a petition for a 
writ of habeas corpus, which was granted, commanding General 
Hancock, who had charge of the several prisoners, to produce her 
body in court. Hancock repaired with the writ to Stanton, who 
directed him to Attorney-General Speed. Without hesitation that 
officer drafted a proclamation, which the President signed at 10 A. 
M., suspending the writ of habeas corpus in the District of Colum- 
bia. At 12 o'clock the execution took place. 

*Later, President Johnson changed completely. On February 8, 1868, 
as if to give his official approval to the assassination of Lincoln, he par- 
doned Dr. Mudd and on March 1, 1869, just as he was retiring to private 
life, pardoned Arnold and Spangler. O'Laughlin died in the military prison 
on the Dry Tortugas, an island off the coast of Florida. 



The magnificent though partial exhibition of national strength 
known as the Grand Review, was projected by Stanton. It was his 
original design to have all the armies, one million in number, in 
review under arms and mustered out at the capital, making a dem- 
onstration vast beyond conception ; but the cost of transportation 
and subsistence rendered that plan, he thought later, inadvisable. 

As the different corps, divisions, and regiments passed before 
him, he recited to the distinguished reviewers near him their bat- 
tles, losses, valor, and victories. "You see in these armies," he 
exclaimed, "the foundation of the Republic — our future railway 
managers, congressmen, bank presidents, senators, manufacturers, 
judges, governors, and diplomats ; yes, and not less than half a 
dozen presidents" — which prophecy has been fulfilled practically, 
Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Harrison, and McKinley having been elected 
to the presidency from the Union armies. 

Detailed reports of the review and of the splendid equipment 
of the Federal troops were made by the foreign representatives to 
their respective governments, establishing in Europe the first ade- 
quate conception of the enormous fighting strength of a free and 
spirited nation ; and that was precisely Stanton's purpose. 

The Grand Review developed many interesting incidents, but 
only one that fixed for itself a place in history — Sherman's affront 
to Stanton for reversing the Sherman-Johnston "agreement." The 
story is told by the Reverend Justin D. Fulton of Brooklyn, as 
follows : 

Through Jay Cooke I had seats at the left of the grand stand. The 
first day of the review was given up to Grant's army. The second was 
given to Sherman, who rode his celebrated war-horse and looked every inch 
a soldier. Beside him rode the one-armed Major-General Howard. The 
first corps had passed. General Sherman gave his horse to his aide and 


walked up to the stand. All rose to greet him. He shook hands with all 
until he came to Stanton, when he turned away. Quick as lightning-leap I 
rose within twenty feet of General Sherman and all, and shouted: 

"Edwin M. Stanton, savior of our country under God, rise and receive 
the greetings of your friends!" 

Sherman's face was black. President Johnson motioned Stanton to 
rise. He did not come until the words were repeated: "Edwin M. Stanton, 
savior of our country under God, rise and receive the greetings of your 
friends." He then came forth into the presence of at least 100,000 people, 
when I cried out aloud once more: 

"Nine cheers for the savior of his country under God!" 

The multitude joined in the acclaim and the great War Secretary re- 
ceived a recognition which would not have come to him had Sherman acted 
the gentleman. 

For days the press teemed with accounts of the affront, some 
thinking General Sherman should resign and others that he should 
receive military punishment ; but Stanton did not even refer to the 
incident. He regarded it as merely the involuntary ebullition of an 
infirm temper in a soldier who had struck telling blows for his 

While this hostile clamor was at its height, Mrs. Sherman sent 
to Stanton, with her autograph card in the midst of it, a bouquet of 
beautiful flowers* — a rare offering of peace, a delicate plea for con- 
sideration. She did not justify her husband's discourtesy and 
wanted Stanton to know it. Afterward, when a military commis- 
sion of which Sherman was a member was sitting in the War De- 
partment, Stanton, who harbored no personal animosity, invited the 
General into his private room, where the two sat for some time in 
friendly chat. 

On April 13, previous to ordering the Grand Review and less 
than four days after Lee's surrender, Stanton gave public notice 
that he would shortly issue orders: "(1) To stop all drafting and 
recruiting in loyal States ; (2) To curtail the purchase of arms, 
munitions, etc. ; (3) To reduce the number of generals and staff 
officers to the actual necessities of the service; (4) To remove all 
military restrictions upon trade and commerce so far as consistent 
with public safety." 

The assassination of Lincoln on the following day and the pur- 
suit of the conspirators prevented issuing the promised orders until 

*"I put Mrs. Sherman's gracious offering in water," says Major A. E. 
H. Johnson, "intending to send it to Mr. Stanton's house; but when the 
Secretary went, the flowers went, too." 


the 28th, when he promulgated General Orders 72, consisting of ten 
sections, reducing the entire military establishment to a peace basis. 

"That," says General Thomas M. Vincent, who prepared the 
details for and had immediate charge of disbandment, "is one of 
the Secretary's remarkable feats. As he stood at his high desk 
consulting and conversing with several important officers upon 
various other topics, he composed and wrote the paper — on which 
we all acted — to disperse our great armies and close up the enor- 
mous business of the military establishment. Copies of the paper 
were taken by photography for preservation and as an illustration 
of Mr. Stanton's wonderful range and accuracy of knowledge of 
military afifairs." 

Extra and expert clerks were sent wherever necessary, and if 
available buildings for offices were insufficient, wall-tents were 
provided. In the meantime, paymasters and quartermasters were 
despatched to the various State rendezvous, where salaries were 
paid and equipage received. Transportation for any emergency had 
been provided. 

During June and July and five days in August, 650,000 soldiers 
were mustered, paid, and transferred bodily to their homes — 
10,000 a day, 1,000 an hour, Sundays included! "Had it been 
possible to spare all the volunteers, the entire number, 1,034,064, 
could easily have been disbanded and returned to their homes 
within three months," says General Vincent. This would have 
been 1,150 per hour for the entire period. 

Disbandment did not mean simply dispersing 1,000,000 armed 
men and 250,000 salaried employes, but also reversing the entire 
momentum of the war, and turning into channels of private activity 
1,288 ships and transports — 700 of them ocean-going; 15,389 miles 
of telegraph lines ; 2,630 miles of railway and its equipment ; 204 
general hospitals ; 32 military prisons ; 4,000 barracks and war struc- 
tures ; 237,000 hospital beds ; 600,000 horses and mules ; enormous 
streams of supplies ; and the products of hundreds of factories run- 
ning night and day on military contracts. 

During the war 2,865,028 Union men were called into the ser- 
vice. Nearly three-quarters of a million fugitive blacks were wholly 
subsisted and about 2,000,000 other blacks aided, while wide sec- 
tions of rebellious territory were successfully cultivated, protected, 
and governed. 


In these transactions the quartermaster-general issued 23,000,- 
000 bushels of corn, 78,000,000 bushels of oats, 93,000 bushels of 
barley, 1,520,000 tons of hay, and 1,600,000 tons of straw, and other 
articles in proportion. The salaried employes in his Department 
numbered 110,000, of whom 83,837 — a large army — were discharged 
under Stanton's reduction order of April 28. 

The operations of the other Departments were on the same 
grand scale. Indeed, the preparations of the winter of 1864-5 to 
crush the insurrection at one irresistible sweep — to wipe out the 
Confederacy — were stupendous. In his review of them Stanton re- 
ported to Congress that he had on hand material and munitions 
sufficient to last three years ; wagons and machinery enough for the 
use of two millions of soldiers ; a food supply that would last two 
months ; and horses and other animals coming in at the rate of 
five hundred per day ! 

Thus the wonderful story of the war is not of its sieges and 
marches, its battle above the clouds, its fight from the tree tops of 
Port Hudson, the wild charge at Petersburg, or the frightful slaugh- 
ter at Gettysburg, but the immeasurable executive and administra- 
tive capacity which furnished, equipped, fed, transported, and paid 
the armies — which knew and developed the resources of the nation 
according to the necessities of the hour! 

The heart and soul of it all was Stanton, and his second report 
of 1865 is the most eloquent history of the Rebellion ever printed. 
It shows the transactions of his Department to have been prodig- 
ious ; and in concluding he made this discriminating prophecy, which 
was fulfilled to the last measure by the Spanish war : 

Henceforth there is no room to doubt the stability of the Union. No 
new rebellion can ever spring up that will not encounter a greater force 
for its reduction, and a foreign war would intensify the national feeling and 
thousands, once misled, would rejoice to atone for their error by rallying 
to the national flag. The majesty of the national power has been exhibited; 
and the foundations of the Federal Union have been made eternal. 

He mentions with pride the success of his efforts to return the 
country almost in a day to a peace basis, a feat that astonished the 
world. European critics did not believe it could be done without 
rioting, bloodshed, and industrial revolution, and, at home, gover- 
nors of States and many distinguished men requested him to pro- 
vide troops to maintain order. 


"He did not view these fears as well-founded, and made reply, 
in substance, that if the soldiers who subdued the Rebellion could 
not be trusted, the life of the Republic might as well be yielded," 
says General Vincent, and he sent ten thousand a day back to their 
respective communities without any efifort to watch or restrain 
them, and there was no disorder, social or industrial. 


The uniformly high grade of Stanton's personal appointments 
is as noteworthy as any feature of his administration. During the 
war the members of his staff never failed in probity or capacity, and, 
without exception, those who survived the contest became promi- 
nent and distinguished leaders in their chosen callings. Could there 
be a surer test of Stanton's foresight and ability? 

While there is no known match for his physical and mental 
endurance and the unflagging force of his will, his lieutenants, con- 
stituting as effective and harmonious a stafif as ever served a war 
minister, kept wonderfully well up to his pace and contributed ma- 
terially to his success.* 

Peter Hill Watson, assistant secretary, a native of Scotland 
who was banished from British soil for participating in the Cana- 
dian Rebellion of 1837 — an abolitionist and an intense patriot — was 
second only to his chief in energy, capacity, and the spirit of self- 

Charles A. Dana, at first confidential agent at the front and 
then assistant secretary, was confessedly the most brainy, far-see- 
ing, and profound investigator and spy of the generation. 

Edward D. Townsend, acting adjutant-general,t faithful and 
true to the last and a model Christian, possessed unlimited capacity 
for discharging routine duties with unerring hand and unruffled 

♦During the opening weeks of his administration he held daily meet- 
ings with his bureau chiefs, thus learning the actual conditions of the sev- 
eral divisions and getting up high pressure and synchronous action through- 
out the Department; but afterward, when he had measured their individual 
capacities, he advised with them separately, according to the matter in hand 
and trusted them implicity to carry out details. 

fGeneral Lorenzo Thomas was technically adjutant-general, but in 
order to have available the remarkable qualities of General Townsend, 
Stanton always kept Thomas, whose condition was feeble» away from Wash- 
ington on detached duties. 


front. Everything military was at his tongue's end ; he could almost 
rest and sleep while grinding at his tasks; he made no mistakes; 
he ran against no sharp corners. ' 

Next to him — perhaps more learned in military laws and codes 
— and equally faithful, self-sacrificing, and reliable, of large con- 
structive ability and unmixed devotion to duty and to Stanton, stood 
Thomas M. Vincent, assistant adjutant-general. 

Not less true and efficient was Thomas T. Eckert (for years 
afterward president of the Western Union Telegraph Company) 
and Anson Stager, in charge of the Military Telegraph, the former 
especially being a model of those who question nothing, disclose 
nothing, discuss nothing, and perform everything. 

William Whiting of Boston, solicitor* of the War Department, 
successfully stemmed that obstructive tide of trouble-makers, so 
much detested by Stanton, who rushed out with the mocking cry 
that the constitution was being violated every time the Government 
undertook a new step to save itself. 

In certain respects General Montgomery C. Meigs, quarter- 
master-general, was Stanton's main support. His military learning 
was immense, his judgment rugged and sound, his energy never 
ending, and his methods practical. 

General James A. Hardie, assistant adjutant-general, occupied 
a delicate and important post. For some time, being a master of 
personal diplomacy and of many languages, he met and disposed 
of the great throngs who constantly beseiged the War Office, decid- 
ing who might or ought to see Stanton, and where those were to go 
whose cases could be attended to by the heads of Departments. As 
everybody wanted to "see the Secretary," there was much clamor 
against his decisions, but they were never reversed by Stanton, 
from whose shoulders this shrewd, discreet, and tireless ofificer of 
wide education and polished manners lifted a destructive burden. 

Others, like Surgeon-General J. K. Barnes, Colonel William P. 
Wood (superintendent of the Old Capitol and Carroll Prisons), 
General L. C. Baker (of the Secret Service), Colonel L. H. Pelouze 

*In February, 1863, when Congress formally provided for a solicitor, 
Stanton proceeded to Steubenville, Ohio, and offered the position to Rod-' 
erick S. Moodey, a lawyer of great attainments, saying: "I have no faith 
in those Washington attorneys." Moodey was unable to accept and Whit- 
ing was selected and, although in such poor health that he resigned just 
previous to the close of the war, he made a world-wide reputation, of which 
his "War Powers Under the Constitution" is an evidence. 

Peter H. Watson. 
Stanton's life-long friend. 

Erastus Corning, 
President N. Y. Central R. R. 


(assistant adjutant-general, a discreet, non-talking West Pointer 
of inexhaustible patience and tact). General Herman Haupt and 
Colonel D. C. McCallum (of the Military Railways), Major A. E. H. 
Johnson (in charge of telegrams, who never opened his mouth or 
permitted a document to leave his hands), as well as several others 
whose doings are mentioned elsewhere in these pages, gave constant 
strength to the heart and security to the soul of Stanton, and to the 
Government a service of far greater value than history has ever 

"It gives me pleasure to bear witness to the general diligence, 
ability, and fidelity manifested by the chiefs of the several bureaus 
of this Department. Whatever success may have attended its ad- 
ministration is, in a great measure, due to them and their subordi- 
nates," said Stanton in one of his reports to Congress ; and in his re- 
view of the great conflict, after its close, he paid this tribute to his 
faithful lieutenants : "To the chiefs of bureaus and subdivisions 
the thanks of this Department are due for their unwearied industry, 
vigilance, and fidelity in the discharge of their duties." 

From one whose patriotism was a mania and whose devotion to 
duty was desperate and ceaseless, words like the above are signifi- 
cant. Those in whom he placed discretionary duties toiled like 
galley slaves, and some of them, like C. P. Wolcott (his brother-in- 
law) and Peter H. Watson, were literally crushed by the weight of 
their burdens. 

"When Secretary Stanton gave orders to his trusted men to 
perform a given service, he expected them to succeed or die in the 
attempt,* and they acted accordingly," says Colonel William P. 
Wood — which tells the whole story. 

*On October 31, 1862, Wood, supposing he was acting under indepen- 
dent instructions from Stanton, refused to obey orders from General Dix 
in relation to exchanges. Dix telegraphed to Stanton, who replied: "Wood 
should have been put in the guard-house. When you think a man deserves 
it, 'shoot him on the spot.' " 



Upon every conqueror devolves the duty of providing for the 
territory acquired by his arms a form of government to succeed that 
w^hich he has destroyed. In other words, he must reconstruct — a 
strange task at Stanton's time in the American Republic — yet he 
was fully equal to it. He closely followed his advancing armies with 
a military form of civil government in order to save the inhabitants 
from anarchy and prepare the rebellious States, at the close of the 
war, he hoped, to drop back into their former places in the Union 
without friction by a simple form of congressional enactment. 

On March 3, 1862 (forty-five days after assuming the war 
portfolio), he appointed United States Senator Andrew Johnson 
military governor of Tennessee, having first attached him to the 
army as brigadier-general, so that the entire process should be 
strictly military, using the following words: 


You are hereby appointed to be military governor of the State of Ten- 
nessee, with authority to exercise and perform within the limits of that 
State, all and singular, the powers, duties, and functions pertaining to the 
office of military governor (including the power to establish all necessary 
offices and tribunals and suspend the writ of habeas corpus) during the 
pleasure of the President or until the loyal inhabitants of that State shall 
have organized a civil government in conformity with the constitution of 
the United States. 

Similar appointments followed shortly in North Carolina, Lou- 
isiana, and other States where the Federal troops were in more or 
less control, supplemented in some instances by sequestration com- 
missions to insure ownership to loyal, and formally confiscate the 
holdings of disloyal, persons. 

Deriving their authority from the direct orders of Stanton, the 
military governors exercised extraordinary powers. They per- 
formed not only gubernatorial functions, but levied and collected 


special taxes ; put upon those who had engaged in rebellion against 
the United States distinct burdens for the support of the children 
and families of those who had enlisted in the Union armies; seized 
and devoted to the common defense the property of insurgents, in- 
cluding slaves ; enrolled slaves of insurgent masters and set them 
to work upon fortifications or otherwise ; furnished employment and 
compensation to loyal whites and abandoned blacks ; subdivided and 
leased out the country formerly occupied by insurgents ; erected 
houses and barns ; constructed docks and railways ; and generally 
materialized the most extreme form of benevolent despotism. 

The operations of General B. F. Butler in New Orleans, under 
Governor Shepley, stand unique in character, magnitude, and suc- 
cess, while those of General Rufus Saxton as military governor on 
the Atlantic coast, are equally characteristic. 

General Saxton describes his interesting experience under Stan- 
ton's instructions of June 16, 1862, and brings out some new and 
valuable facts : 

On the islands stretching along the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, 
and eastern Florida were a very large number of negroes — slaves aban- 
doned by their owners. The plantations were there and the labor was 
there, but the labor must be directed and controlled to be effective. Many 
even in the North believed that the negro would not work unless driven. 
To demonstrate the fact that industry and order could be made possible 
among lately freed slaves, was the task set for me by Mr. Stanton. 

Truth demands that I say that I received very little collateral aid. 
Among military officers in command there was found scarcely any sympa- 
thy with a scheme having for its object a proof that slavery might be safely 
abolished. That it would lead eventually to the employment of negroes as 
soldiers, was exceedingly distasteful. Where there was no active hostility 
among army authorities there was an almost entire apathy. However, I 
was fully sustained by Mr. Stanton. 

Under my direction came many thousands of freedmen. I caused cot- 
ton to be cultivated on all abandoned lands, producing a fund of more than 
a million dollars out of which all the expenses of the Department were paid; 
food crops were raised on thousands of acres; a surplus of fruit and vege- 
tables was sold by the freedmen to the army, with markedly beneficial re- 
sults to the troops; able-bodied colored men were employed as teamsters, 
wood-cutters, and laborers at low wages, thus relieving the troops in a hot 
climate, and two full regiments of colored soldiers, with white officers, were 
put in the field. 

At the close of my administration in 1865 I turned over to the Freed- 
men's Bank over $200,000, the savings of men who, in the winter of 1861-2, 
were simply abandoned or fugitive slaves. 

The success of the experiment was highly gratifying to Mr. Stanton, 
its author, who visited me during the winter of 1865 to observe for himself 


the condition of the freedmen of the sea islands and the colored soldiers 
he had been the chief instrument of calling into service. He was also 
deeply interested in the free labor qyestion, believing that the fair fields of 
the South could be more advantageously cultivated by the free than by slave 
labor; and the fact that I had completely demonstrated this at Port Royal 
was as gratifying to him as had been his successful experiment of arming 
the blacks. 

He was enthusiastic upon the subject, and when I asked him to allow 
me to accept the command of a division which General F. P. Blair had 
offered me in his army corps, he refused in a very positive manner, saying: 
"I have no man to put in your place. I would like to exchange places with 
you; I would rather have your work than my own." 

I accompanied Mr. Stanton to Savannah, where he met General Sher- 
man in his victorious march to the sea. There he approved the famous 
Special Field Order No. 15, dated at Savannah, January 16, 1865, which gave 
up all the lands on the sea islands, 800,000 acres in extent, to preemptions 
for homesteads solely for the negroes. No white man was allowed the priv- 
ilege of this order, which became known as the "Forty-acre-and-a-Mule 

From my conversation with him, however, I am confident that he had 
an entirely different program for the management of the freedmen. I heard 
the General say to the Secretary: "Mr. Stanton, leave the question of the 
freedmen in the territory conquered by my army to me. I have it all fixed 
up." Mr. Stanton turned to me saying: "General Sherman wants to have 
charge of the freedmen's interests. We must leave it to him."* 

As I was named in the order as superintendent, I protested to General 
Sherman that I had not sufficient power to carry out his orders; was ham- 
pered by superiors in command and powerless to do anything that might 
interfere with their authority. My protests were not heeded and I was di- 
rected to carry out the order, which I at once proceeded to do to the best 
of my ability, encountering all the obstacles anticipated. After issuing his 
order General Sherman did not concern himself about its execution, and 
afterwards did not manifest the slightest interest in its fate. However, 
Mr. Stanton's powerful support greatly lessened the difficulties of the situa- 
tion, and 40,000 freedmen were colonized on forty-acre tracts. 

When President Johnson came into power, Mr. Stanton was unable to 
go further, and the new administration proceeded to undo all that had been 
accomplished. I was mustered out of the service and the lands were re- 
stored to their former owners. 

*Order No. 15 was approved orally not formally by Stanton — that is, 
was not countermanded or forbidden by him. Stanton, on reading it, said 
to Sherman: "It seems to me, General, that this is contrary to law." Sher- 
man's response was: "There is no law here except mine, Mr. Secretary." 
Stanton smiled and the order was issued a day or two after he left for the 
North. General Saxton says Stanton was opposed to the order, but ac- 
quiesced in its promulgation in deference to the positive wishes of General 


Naturally the opening operations of these military governors 
were largely physical — clothing, feeding, and sheltering the people 
and tilling the soil of the conquered sections — saving life and land. 
Then followed efforts toward political organization — local self-gov- 
ernment. Louisiana being first prepared, apparently, to reerect 
loyal State machinery, Stanton, on August 24, 1863, issued instruc- 
tions to Governor G. F. Shepley to make a registry of loyal voters 
and such others as would take the oath of allegiance for the purpose 
of electing delegates to a convention to adopt a constitution and 
form "a. government loyal to the United States and in conformity 
with the Federal constitution." 

Before the war closed Tennessee had constitutionally abolished 
slavery and established complete local self-government, with courts, 
congressmen, and United States senators duly elected — an extra- 
ordinary administrative feat, due almost entirely to Stanton's wis- 
dom and Andrew Johnson's resolution — and active operations in 
that direction were in progress in other States. 

Thus, Stanton's military governors saved bloodshed, rescued 
plantations and mills, shortened the war, held disloyalty in check, 
insured safety to the persons and property of those who adhered to 
the Union, and trained, encouraged, and protected the blacks who, 
by the hundreds and thousands, were suddenly left without master, 
shelter, employment, or subsistence. 

If Lincoln had lived, unquestionably these governors would 
have been continued (instead of the illegal "provisional governors" 
appointed by President Johnson and Secretary Seward) until Con- 
gress had provided for lawfully rehabilitating the rebellious States, 
thus avoiding the hideous crimes of 1866, 1867, and 1868. 


When Andrew Johnson resigned as military governor of Ten- 
nessee to become vice-president, he was. the recipient, on March 3, 
1865, of the following generous and well-deserved letter from 
Stanton : 

This Department has accepted your resignation as brigadier-general 
and military governor of Tennessee. Permit me to render you the thanks 
of this Department for your patriotic and able services during the eventful 
period through which you have executed the high trusts committed to your 

In one of the darkest hours of the great struggle for national exist- 
ence against rebellious foes, the Government called you from the Senate, 
from the comparatively safe and easy duties of civil life, to place you in front 
of the enemy and in a position of personal toil and danger perhaps more 
hazardous than was encountered by any other citizen or military officer of 
the United States. 

With patriotic promptness you assumed the post and maintained it 
under circumstances of unparalleled trial until recent events have brought 
deliverance and safety to your State and to the integrity of that constitu- 
tional Union to which you so long and gallantly periled all that is dear 
to man on earth. 

That you may be spared to enjoy the new honors and perform the 
high duties to which you have been called by the people of the United 
States is the sincere wish of one who, in every personal and official relation, 
has found you worthy of the confidence of the Government and the honor 
and esteem of your fellow citizens. 

A few days later Johnson succeeded Lincoln as president, con- 
fronted with new and intricate problems, and many sad conditions. 
Throughout the South, except where straggling patches were tilled 
by ex-slaves under military tutelage, 

No products did the barren fields afford, 
Save man and steel — the soldier and his sword. 

There were no mails, no post-offices, no commerce, no money, 
no industries — nothing but chaos in society, paralysis in industry, 
anarchy in politics, and poverty among the people. 


A numerous faction in the North contended that the moment 
the insurgents surrendered or were captured, their hostile and 
illegal State governments became formal and legal, and the States 
themselves full parts of the Federal Union. 

Stanton held that such a theory was absurd and that every 
insurgent organization, civil and military, was wiped out by the 
victory of the Federal arms and that the conquered sections pos- 
sessed no rights not granted by the conqueror. Said he : "A public 
enemy cannot come into Congress and vote down the measures pro- 
posed for his subjugation or reconstruction.* The culprit cannot 
sit as a member of the jury in the trial of its own case." 

The conflicting arguments of statesmen and jurists, mixed with 
fearful threats by the new President against the insurgent leaders, 
distracted the masses and rendered any decisive step hazardous. 
However, as very many had wrongly thought, with Lincoln, that 
sovereignty attached to the soil and not to the inhabitants, Stanton 
prepared a plan of reconstruction on the surrender of Lee which 
he handed to Lincoln in the morning of the day before the assassina- 
tion. Concerning this plan and the attitude of Lincoln, Stanton test- 
ified under oath before a committee of Congress : 

On the last day of Mr. Lincoln's life there was a cabinet meeting, at 
which General Grant and all the members of the cabinet except Mr. Seward 
were present. General Grant at the time made a report of the condition of 
the country as he conceived it to be on the surrender of Johnston's army, 
which was regarded as absolutely certain. The subject of reconstruction 
was talked of at considerable length. Shortly previous to that time I had 
myself, with a view of putting in a practical form the means of overcoming 
what seemed to be a difficulty in the mind of Mr. Lincoln as to the mode 
of reconstruction, prepared a rough draft form or mode by which the author- 
ity and laws of the United States should be reestablished and governments 
recognized in the rebel States under the Federal authority, without any 
necessity whatever for the intervention of rebel organizations or rebel aid. 

In the course of that consultation Mr. Lincoln alluded to the paper, 
went into his room, brought it out, and asked me to read it, which I did, 
and explained my ideas in regard to it. There was one point which I had 
left open; that was as to who should constitute the electors in the respec- 
tive States. That I supposed to be the only important point upon which a 
difference of opinion could arise — whether the blacks should have suffrage 
in the States, or whether it should be confined for purposes of reorganiza- 
tion to those who had exercised it under the former State laws. I left a 

*On Stanton's advice, previous to counting the electoral votes of the 
States, Congress passed a resolution in February, 1865, deciding that the 
rebellious States were not entitled to vote for presidential electors. 


blank upon that subject to be considered. There was at that time nothing 
adopted about it and no opinion expi;essed; it was only a project. I was 
requested by the other members of the cabinet, and by Mr. Lincoln, to have 
a copy printed for each member for subsequent consideration. 

My object was simply to bring to the attention of the President and 
cabinet, in a practical form, what I thought might be a possible means of 
organization without rebel intervention. Mr. Lincoln seemed to be laboring 
under the impression that there must be some starting point in the reor- 
ganization, and that it could be only through the agency of the rebel organ- 
izations then existing, but which I did not deem to be at all necessary. 

The plan of reconstruction mentioned in the foregoing testi- 
mony was adopted by Johnson when he became president, without 
change in word or punctuation, and issued on May 9, 1865, as an 
"Executive Order to reestablish the authority of the United States 
and execute the laws within the geographical limits known as the 
State of Virginia," as follows : 

Ordered: First — That all acts and proceedings of the political, mili- 
tary, and civil organizations which have been in a state of insurrection and 
rebellion within the State of Virginia against the authority and laws of 
the United States, and of which Jefferson Davis, John Letcher, and William 
Smith were late the respective chiefs, are declared null and void. All per- 
sons who shall exercise, claim, pretend, or attempt to exercise any political, 
military, or civil power, authority, jurisdiction, or right, by, through, or 
under Jeflferson Davis, late of the City of Richmond, and his confederates, 
or under John Letcher or William Smith and their confederates, or under 
any pretended political, military, or civil commission or authority issued 
by them or any of them since the 17th day of April, 1861, shall be deemed 
and taken as in rebellion against the United States, and shall be dealt with 

Second — That the Secretary of State proceed to put in force all laws 
of the United States, the administration whereof belongs to the Depart- 
ment of State, applicable to the geographical limits aforesaid. 

Third — That the Secretary of the Treasury proceed without delay to 
nominate for appointment assessors of taxes and collectors of custom and 
internal revenue, and such other officers of the Treasury Department as are 
authorized by law, and shall put into execution the revenue laws of the 
United States within the geographical limits aforesaid. In making appoint- 
ments the preference shall be given to qualified loyal persons residing within 
the districts where their respective duties are to be performed. But if suit- 
able persons shall not be found resident of the districts, then persons resid- 
ing in other States or districts shall be appointed. 

Fourth — That the Postmaster-General shall proceed to establish post- 
offices and post routes, and put into execution the postal laws of the United 
States within the said State, giving the loyal residents the preference of ap- 
pointment; but if suitable persons are not found, then to appoint agents, 
etc., from other States. 


Fifth — That the District Judge of said district proceed to hold courts 
within said State in accordance with the provisions of the acts of Congress. 
The Attorney-General will instruct the proper officers to libel and bring 
to judgment, confiscation, and sale, property subject to confiscation, and 
enforce the administration of justice within said States, in all matters civil 
and criminal within the cognizance and jurisdiction of the Federal courts. 

Sixth — That the Secretary of War assign such assistant provost marshal- 
generals and such provost marshals in each district of said State as may 
be deemed necessary. 

Seventh — The Secretary of the Navy will take possession of all public 
property belonging to the Navy Department, within said geographical limits, 
and put in operation all acts of Congress in relation to naval afTairs having 
application to said State. 

Eighth — The Secretary of the Interior will also put in force the laws 
relating to the Department of the Interior. 

Ninth — That to carry into effect the guarantee of the Federal constitu- 
tion of a republican form of State government, and afTord the advantage 
and security of domestic laws, as well as to complete the reestablishment of 
the authority of the laws of the United States, and the full and complete 
restoration of peace within the limits aforesaid, Francis H. Pierrepont, [then 
military] governor of the State of Virginia, will be aided by the Federal 
Government, so far as may be necessary, in the lawful measures which he 
may take for the extension and administration of the State government 
throughout the geographical limits of said State. 

Before reconstruction could be taken up in other States, Secre- 
tary Seward had sufficiently recovered from the attempt upon his 
life to make his influence felt, supplemented immediately by that 
of Judge J. S. Black, Edgar Cowan, Montgomery Blair, Reverdy 
Johnson, and others of their belief who had allied themselves with 
the President. 

Seward first struck section six from Stanton's original recon- 
struction order, so that the man who had conquered the insurrec- 
tionary country should have nothing to do with caring for or admin- 
istering the fruits of his victory. Then section nine was eliminated 
and a series of "whereas's" prefixed to the document defining suf- 
frage and citizenship and authorizing constitutional conventions, 
etc., — all exclusive prerogatives of Congress. 

Thus reconstructed, Stanton's reconstruction order was issued 
as a presidential proclamation in North Carolina. This, however, 
was not done before Stanton had distinctly warned Seward that if 
the President should declare the Rebellion ended and withdraw and 
terminate the military governments established by the War Depart- 
ment, thus impairing if not resigning his powers as commander-in- 


chief, he would become an usurper in attempting to appoint, create, 
or select governors or other civil officers in the South without an- 
tecedent action by Congress. 

Seward thereupon sent letters to all the so-called governors 
who had been appointed by Johnson to succeed the military govern- 
ors, informing them that their appointments must be considered 
"provisional only until the civil authorities shall be restored with 
the authority of Congress" — curious advice in view of the fact that 
the appointments themselves were illegal, whether for long or short 
periods, "provisional" or otherwise. 

Here begins the parting of the ways between Stanton and John- 


Six of these "provisional" governors were appointed within six 
weeks and others followed in due time. Under them elections were 
held which resulted in filling the local offices and legislatures with 
men hostile to the Federal authority ;* electing as representatives 
and senators those only who had lately been in rebellion ; promul- 
gating State constitutions without submitting them to the people ; 
and enacting oppressive laws against the blacks. 

In South Carolina "Governor" Perry suspended everything 
that had been accomplished and reinstated the laws in existence 
prior to secession, forcing the military commanders of that Depart- 
ment to send protests to Stanton against that manner of reversing 
the results of the war. 

Once more the North became aroused and thunders of indigna- 
tion rolled against the White House. General Carl Schurz was sent 
to investigate and report upon conditions and sentiments in the 
South. The result did not suit President Johnson, who requested 
Grant to make a counter report. 

Grant, with Stanton's formal approval, left his office on Novem- 
ber 27, 1865, but was back in Washington in eight or ten days. He 
saw but few persons and gathered no testimony. His report com- 
prised two printed pages. He reported no facts, but, as Badeau 
says (p. 33) reported according to "the expectations of the Presi- 

Schurz's report was elaborate, containing one hundred and five 
printed pages. It was reinforced by official documents and formal 
statements from nearly all of the military officers (many of them 
men of distinction) in the insurrectionary sections. Therefore Stan- 

*Only Confederates were chosen. When, as was generally the case, 
men were elected who could not take the prescribed oath, their names were 
forwarded to Johnson who promptly issued pardons to them, thus making 
them his active partisans. 


ton thought a contrary statemerbt by Grant, unsupported by facts, 
would prove to be injudicious and probably disastrous, but Johnson 
ordered otherwise, and, against Stanton's advice, Grant's so-called 
report (termed "whitewash" by Senator Charles Sumner) was sent 
by the President to Congress with and as an antidote to that of 
Schurz, who thus concluded : 

(1) The loyalty of the masses and of most of the leaders of the South- 
ern people consists in submission to necessity. (2) Slavery in the old 
form cannot be kept up. (3) The ordinances abolishing slavery, passed 
by the conventions under the pressure of circumstances, will not be looked 
upon as barring the establishment of a new form of servitude and (4) will 
result in bloody collision and will certainly plunge Southern society into 
restless fluctuations and anarchial confusion. 

Congress, spurning Grant's and accepting Schurz's conclusions, 
declared without debate against admitting the members and senators 
elected under Johnson's "provisional" governments ; also against 
the proposition of the rebellious States to reenact their former slave 
constitutions, and that the insurgent leaders, by their acts of war, 
had become tainted with treason and could not participate in public 
affairs, even as voters upon Federal matters, until they had been 

Johnson was furious, denouncing and defying Congress as an 
"usurper" and "dictator." The situation was critical. The Presi- 
dent and all of his cabinet (save Stanton) and apparently the head 
of the armies (Grant)* were arrayed on one side, while Stanton and 
a majority of Congress were arrayed on the other to maintain the 
Union and a rational form of reconstruction. 

On February 19, 1866, the President vetoed the Freedmen's 
Bureau Bill, which Stanton had championed, for the alleged reason 
that the insurrectionary States had no representatives in the Con- 
gress which enacted the law. On the following day Representative 
Thaddeus Stevens presented a resolution declaring that the repre- 
sentatives of no rebellious States should be received in Congress 
until that body had decided that such States were entitled to repre- 
sentation, and it passed both Houses. 

♦"General Grant was a Democrat and thought and acted in harmony 
with President Johnson in politics and reconstruction for a time after the 
close of the war," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, confidential clerk to both 
Stanton and Grant. 


On April 2, 1866, hoping to submerge the law-making power, 
Johnson issued a proclamation declaring the Rebellion closed and 
the insurrectionary States back in the Union as before, with all the 
rights, powers, and privileges of the loyal States. 

"If President Johnson can put flesh on the bones and blood in 
the veins of three hundred thousand men and return them to their 
families, he can make this nation think he is right; if not, he never 
can," said Stanton to Philetus Sawyer of Wisconsin. "A year ago 
we had a million fighting men in the field and the same sentiment 
and influence that sent them there will return them again, before the 
people will see the political power of this nation placed in the 
hands of the rebellious States by Andrew Johnson or any other 

On May 22, 1866, the President and his cabinet were serenaded, 
according to a plan conceived by Alex. W. Randall of Wisconsin, 
who was subsequently rewarded with the appointment of postmas- 
ter-general. The device was intended to trap certain members of the 
cabinet, all of whom were invited to speak. 

Stanton prepared in writing a moderate but adroit speech, which 
was intended mainly for Congress. After stating his differences 
with Johnson and his adherence to a rational and permanent form 
of reconstruction, he said he had advised the President to sign the 
Civil Rights, Freedmen's Bureau, and Reconstruction bills, which 
were vetoed, and concluded with emphasis, that he was opposed to 
the third section of a pending amendment of the constitution pro- 
posing to "exclude all States lately in rebellion from representation 
in Congress till July 4, 1870." He declared that for Congress to tie 
its hands more than four years in advance was unwise and danger- 
ous, as circumstances might so change in the meantime as to make 
the readmission of the seceded States proper and wholesome. 

Six days later the Senate unanimously struck out the section 
Stanton thus objected to, although it had passed the House by a 
large majority. His influence with Congress was yet omnipotent, 
as it had been for years, for he had made no mistakes in his advice 
to that body or to the President. 

Shortly after this, by a law of Congress, Grant was elevated to 
the grand position of general. Why? He was gaining no victories ; 
he was leading no armies ; the war was over ; only twenty-five thou- 
sand of the million soldiers under his command a little over a year 
before were left on the rolls ; there was no preparation for another 


President Johnson, now fully entered upon his great fight 
against Congress and the loyal masses, was toadying to Grant in the 
hope of permanently retaining him as a powerful helpmeet, leading 
the public to believe, with regret and grief, that the General en- 
dorsed the President's policy. Congress, therefore, would have been 
far more likely, if left to itself, to curtail than add to Grant's glories 
and power. 

The proposed promotion was hung up a long time in commit- 
tee. Stanton, seeing Grant drifting farther and farther from the 
people, farther and farther from the record and the fruits of his own 
great achievements, and hoping to rescue him from being completely 
Johnsonized, went to the committee and gave reasons which, though 
entirely political, were nevertheless accepted as sufficient for the 
passage of the bill ; and it was passed. The President signed it be- 
cause he believed that he had Grant safely appropriated to his own 
uses and purposes, and that this magnificent elevation of a distin- 
guished ally would add to his own strength in the battle that was 
now on with Congress and the loyal people. But Stanton, relying 
on Grant's abundant store of common sense and the ultimate efltect 
of the influence of the Union masses who had idolized him, did not 
think so. He felt that Grant, who was a child in politics, would 
sooner or later discover the real trend of affairs and attach himself 
in peace to the people for whom he had fought in war, and whose 
representatives had bestowed upon him this great additional honor. 
Therefore he gave not only his official but his close personal atten- 
tion to this promotion, and was careful to make Grant acquainted 
with the fact, as this private note, by his own hand, delivered by a 
special messenger on July 25, 1866, will show : 


The President has signed the bill reviving the grade of general. I have 
made out and laid your commission before him and it will be sent to the 
Senate this morning. 

Although Grant continued his intimacy at the White House, he 
did so, after September, 1866, under strong mental protest and only 
after persistent dragooning — a fact, however, which the people have 
not been permitted to know to this day. 



The autumn of 1866 was especially full of contention and chaos. 
Johnson arranged a series of so-called national conventions (one 
called for Philadelphia on August 14, and the other for Cleveland 
on September 17) for the purpose of influencing pending congres- 
sional elections in favor of "my policy." 

To offset the Philadelphia convention Stanton suggested that 
an imposing assembly called "Loyalists of the South" be held in 
the same city on September 3. It was a very large gathering and 
drew as participants or spectators the most distinguished men of 
the nation, the Southerners having requested delegates from the 
North to meet and confer with them. The general mass-meeting on 
the third day was the largest ever seen in Philadelphia. 

In order to neutralize the effect of the convention at Cleveland, 
a vast gathering of soldiers and sailors opposed to Johnson and 
upholding Stanton and Congress, met in Pittsburg on the 25th of 
September. Every State in the Union was represented. John A. 
Logan presided and nearly all the great generals were present on 
the stage. 

Four days prior to this gathering Stanton felt called upon to 
send the following letter: 

Washington City, September 21, 1866. 
Dear Sir: 

I have heard it intimated that some of the delegates to the Pittsburg 
convention contemplate offering a complimentary resolution in favor of 
myself, and asking me to retain my position in the War Department. Gen- 
eral Irwin of Philadelphia and General Brisbane of Ohio have been men- 
tioned as having that disposition. 

It must be obvious to you, as it is to me, that any personal allusion 
favorable to me would be prejudicial to any good influence I may be able 
to exert. I desire no endorsement, and personal compliments are matters 
for which I have no taste. / ivish you would therefore see that nothing of that 
kind is done in respect to myself. 

Yours truly, 

The Honorable J. K. Moorhead. Edwin M. Stanton. 


In the meantime Johnson (accompanied by General Grant, 
Postmaster-General Alex. W. R'andall, Colonel W. G. Moore, Gen- 
eral J. K. Barnes, Admiral David Farragut, Secretary Seward, and 
others) undertook his notorious "swing around the circle." Grant's 
presence in the procession was arranged in the hope that it would 
influence soldiers to support such candidates for Congress as were 
known to favor the "Johnson policy" of reconstruction. 

The President harangued the disrespectful crowds that came 
out to see him along the line of the journey to St. Louis, in a man- 
ner unparalleled in American history. A feature of the performance 
at Cleveland brought out a letter from Congressman J. M. Ashley 
of Toledo, to which Stanton made a remarkable reply, as follows : 

Washington City, September 14, 1866. 
My Dear Sir: 

I beg to acknowledge yours of the 6th instant. Having made several 
cautious inquiries, I am forced vi^ith regret to say that I believe I can do 
nothing to make secure the appointment of your friend. These recon- 
naissances in his behalf prevented an earlier reply. 

There is, indeed, "danger ahead," the most serious being that Johnson 
and Grant, as you put it, "suck through the same quill." The President has 
for more than a year put forth persistent efforts to capture Grant for pur- 
poses that are unmistakable.* He has in a measure succeeded, but I firmly 
believe that the head of the armies cannot ultimately be corrupted. In fact, 
I may say I know it. Yet Grant goes daily, almost hourly, to the White 
House, in full view of the populace, and at this moment is gyrating through 
the country on a deplorable joust with Mr. Johnson. These things, with 
the exposure and revulsion that are sure to follow, will corrupt public senti- 
ment and confuse national leadership, if not taint the General himself. 

To taint an individual, even one so lofty as Grant, is nothing; but to 
corrupt the foundation masses of public sentiment is destructive. You say 
with "surprise and humiliation" that Grant could not appear at Cleveland; 
that Johnson was in such a condition that it would have been better if he 
had gone into seclusion and that the "current performances of our Executive 
are so scandalous that means should be sought to end them." 

Our common masses are temperate and God-fearing. To them such 
performances are indeed scandalous; but here in Washington, as you know, 
it is wholly different. Here the populace — we have no people — worship 
power. Johnson represents power, and the public eye — the ever-hungering 
public eye — regards it as dangerous to look too closely into the private con- 
duct of those who happen at a given moment to be on the throne. But 

*Says Charles A. Dana: "Grant's elevation to the presidency was fore- 
seen by Mr. Stanton long before it was generally anticipated by the coun- 
try. Even in 1865 he said to me: 'Andy Johnson is manoeuvring for the 
VVhit§ House but Grant will beat him,' " 

President Andrf.w Johnson. 


when the great concourse of virtuous people behold the head of our nation 
reeling through the country as set forth daily in the public prints and as 
described in your letter, I know disrespect and demoralization must follow. 

As your letter seems to be somewhat of an appeal to me, I must reply 
that my hand is not on the tiller; and, if it were, the exhibition now going 
on would do more to bring the General to his senses than anything I could 
possibly do. 

You ask, "What are we coming to — what is in store for us?" No man 
can say. I have forebodings; perils appear in my visions. 

These new and augmenting dangers increase my longings to be free — 
to return to my family, friends, and profession; to rest; to have peace. But 
is it so to be? When General Grant telegraphed that Lee would surrender 
in a few days, I went to Mr. Lincoln, like a bird set free, and told him that 
my work was done — the task set for me when I accepted the office finished 
— and handed over my resignation. 

Putting his hands on my shoulders, tears filling his eyes, he said: 
"Stanton, you cannot go. Reconstruction is more difficult and dangerous 
than construction or destruction. You have been our main reliance; you 
must help us through the final act. The bag is filled. It must be tied, and 
tied securely. Some knots slip; yours do not. You understand the situation 
better than anybody else, and it is my wish and the country's that you 

I instantly begged the President to understand that I had not proposed 
to leave him with any trouble or tasks in my domain unprovided for; that 
I had made an outline of a plan of reconstruction (which he then received) 
with briefs more or less elaborate, explaining the varying circumstances to 
be considered in carrying out the reconstruction acts (which Congress must 
provide) in each of the several States and localities; that I had prepared 
detailed instructions to guide the quartermaster-general in turning over to 
their rightful owners, tentatively or fully, the railways, locomotives, rolling 
stock, and other property seized or acquired during the military operations 
of the United States; and also made memoranda in reference to establishing 
national post-offices, postal facilities, Federal courts, and revenue service; 
and preparing generally to reopen commerce and social intercourse between 
the sections on a proper and enduring basis. 

Mr. Lincoln was never a good projector and frequently not a good man- 
ager; but his intuition was wonderful. He was one of the best of men to 
have by the side of a projector or manager. He steadily opposed arming 
and freeing slaves, for reasons that will probably never be written, for 
nearly a year and a half; but usually his mind was as free from bias as any 
I ever knew, and it was a genuine pleasure to consult him on new matters. 

As I began to relate the preparations I had made for conducting the 
Department after my resignation, a curious and interesting expression of his 
face disclosed that he had discovered a summary reply to my argument. 
The moment I had finished he put his hand on my shoulder again and ob- 
served triumphantly: "Stanton, you give the very reason why you should 
not resign. You admit that you have looked into the future, foreseen 
troubles there, and tried to prepare in advance for my relief and the benefit 
of the nation. Your recitation sustains me exactly. You must stay," 


I had hardly returned to my desk, for, of course, an appeal like that 
could not be overridden, when Mr. Lincoln was murdered. 

When the resulting confusion had somewhat subsided, the members 
of the cabinet (except Mr. Seward) informally tendered their resignations 
to take effect at the convenience of the new president. Perhaps I was first 
to make the suggestion. He replied: "No, you must keep the machinery 
moving. We must retain the chief engineer, by all means. I hope you will 
not think of resigning."* 

There you have the situation: When I thought it safe to resign I could 
not, and now that I can resign, I dare not. 

However, as soon as the way shall be clear, which I hope will be soon 
after the meeting of Congress, I shall retire. Congress can so tie the hands 
of Johnson and Seward that they will not be able to wreck the country and 
throw us into another revolution, although they have gone so far already 
that no statutes can prevent their acts from bringing on a reign of chaos 
and bloodshed in the South that will horrify the civilized world. 

My physical condition is deplorable. Prostrated by spasms of asthma 
and tortured by unbearable pains in my head, it is a problem how much 
longer I can keep up. 

Come on early, I beg you, for Congress has a heavy task before it. Hop- 
ing to see you soon, and that your friend may receive his appointment, I am, 

Truly your friend, 

The Honorable J. M. Ashley. Edwin M. Stanton. 

The prophecies of the foregoing communication are noteworthy. 
The one declaring that the Johnson-Seward policy would "bring on 
a reign of chaos and bloodshed in the South that would horrify the 
civilized world," was verified by the operations of the Pale Faces, 
White Camelias, Tailhold Clubs, White Leagues, Kuklux Klans, 
and similar organizations that immediately sprang up amidst the 
young, restless, and less reputable classes in that section. 

General P. H. Sheridan reported to Congress that "the number 
of persons killed and wounded in this State [Louisiana] since 1866, 
on account of their political opinions, is as follows : Killed, 2,141 ; 
wounded, 2,115 ; total, 4,256." Similar reports came from the com- 
manders of other military districts in the South — a frightful fulfil- 
ment of Stanton's prophetic letter. 

♦Charles A. Dana says: "Vice-President Johnson took the oath of 
office as president and his first act, most becomingly performed, was to 
thank the Secretary of War for all that he had accomplished and ask him, 
while they held each other by the hand, to stand by him as he had stood by 
Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Stanton promised and kept his word as long as Mr. John- 
son upheld Lincoln's principles." 


His measure of Grant was also correct. The storm of indignant 
protest against Johnson which shook the North to its center finally 
opened Grant's eyes. He turned back in disgust before completing 
the "swing around the circle," and, slightly more than a year after 
making his perfunctory statement of conditions in the South in 
opposition to the fortified reports of Carl Schurz and the military 
officers of that section, ordered General Howard of the Freedmen's 
Bureau to give him a list of the murders and outrages of freedmen, 
Northern, or other Union men and refugees in the Southern States 
for the last six months or a year, as he "wished to make a report 
showing that the courts in those States afforded no security to life 
or property of the classes referred to, and wished to recommend 
that martial law be declared over such districts as do not afford the 
proper protection." 

That Stanton was sincere in his expressed desire, whenever 
the country should be at peace, to retire to private life (at least to 
get out of the cabinet, in which he was without support) is con- 
firmed by a note, written a few days after the date of the Ashley let- 
ter, to Peter H. Watson, his long-trusted friend, which was deliv- 
ered at Ashtabula, Ohio, by a special messenger in the person of 
Major Albert E. H. Johnson : 

Washington City, October 19, 1866. 
My Dear Friend: 

I have thought it would do you good to see either Albert [E. H. John- 
son] or myself, and as I cannot leave here I have sent him to you to make 
a visit. It grieves me very much to hear of your continued ill health, and 
the more especially as I know you will not take the rest needed for your 

The last Congress directed me to appoint some one to prepare the 
official reports, etc., for a history of the war.* There are many applications, 

*In August, 1865, Stanton created a bureau for collecting, indexing, and 
preserving Confederate archives and appointed the learned Francis Lieber 
to have charge of the work, paying him from the provost-marshal fund. 
In December following Congress resolved that no one in the Federal ser- 
vice could receive compensation except from money previously appropriated 
and called upon Stanton for information. He replied: "The reason for the 
appointment was the necessity of having the archives collated by a publicist 
of known character and reputation, in order that they might be available 
to the Government without delay. It was the expectation that if this ap- 
pointment should be considered unauthorized by any existing law, its obvious 
necessity would be sanctioned by Congress." Thereupon Congress enacted 
the law mentioned in the letter of October 19, under which Watson was 
appointed, but did not serve, and thus was the foundation for publishing 
the Records of the Rebellion laid. 


but none that suits me. If your Itealth is sufficient, you would, with my 
aid, do the work better than any one else; and as I do not mean to be here 
much longer, I could help you. What do you think of it? Or rather, I do 
not want you to think at all; but it occurred to me that if we were to work 
together a while on something that required little labor and occasioned no 
anxiety, it might be useful to both, having an adequate clerical force to take 
off the drudgery. But I do not know enough of your condition to judge 
whether it would hurt or do you good. Mrs. Watson is the better judge — 
suppose you talk with her about the matter. 

I hope she and the children are well. Mrs Stanton and our children 
are now at Pittsburg. Her health is in a very precarious condition — so much 
so as to excite great anxiety lest she should go into rapid consumption. 

Public affairs are very gloomy; more so, and with more reason than 
ever before — not excepting the dark hours of 1S60-1. 

I beg you to give my kindest regards to Mrs. Watson. 

With unabated affection, I am, as ever. 
Yours truly, 

The Honorable P. H. Watson. Edwin M. Stanton. 


The fruits of Andrew Johnson's "swing around the circle" were 
decidedly contrary to his expectations. The November (1866) 
congressional elections went overwhelmingly against him, so that 
the Congress-elect had a safe majority to reinforce Stanton with 
necessary legislation, the President's veto notwithstanding. No 
veto was withheld, however. 

Bills admitting Colorado and Nebraska ; granting universal suf- 
frage in the District of Columbia ; preventing the President from 
removing certain officers (especially Stanton) and appointing suc- 
cessors without the "advice and consent of the Senate" — called the 
tenure-of-office law — and a measure dividing the rebellious States 
into military districts and providing for their government, were en- 
acted, vetoed, and promptly passed over the vetoes in February and 
March, 1867. 

More than a year prior Stanton saw the mad-bull spirit devel- 
oping in President Johnson and informed senators and representa- 
tives that probably he would soon be forced to leave the War De- 
partment. This statement led to the enactment of the tenure-of- 
office law. "He did not suggest it or know of it previous to its ap- 
pearance in Congress," says Major A. E. H. Johnson. "It was 
brought forward for him alone. No other officer of the Govern- 
ment was thought of or cared for. Congress felt compelled in sheer 
self-defense to throw its power around him, and did so. In cabinet 
Mr. Stanton opposed the bill and all the members disclaimed pro- 
tection under it, Mr. Welles going so far as to state that the mem- 
ber for whom it was framed was not worthy to be the adviser of the 

History, however, shows that he was worthy to save the nation 
from another war. 

The President knew the object of the law but dared not dis- 
miss Stanton even while it was pending. He expected to force him 
out without resorting to formal terms of dismissal. 


Under the reconstruction act, which subdivided the South into 
military districts, General J. M. Schofield was placed in command 
of the First District — Virginia ; General D. E. Sickles of the Second 
— North and South Carolina; General John Pope of the Third — 
Georgia, Florida, and Alabama ; General E. O. C. Ord of the Fourth 
— Arkansas and Mississippi ; General P. H. Sheridan of the Fifth — 
Louisiana and Texas. 

Their duties were to protect persons and property and punish 
criminals regardless of color or previous condition. The law de- 
clared, however, that as soon as proper constitutions and State gov- 
ernments had been formed, forever abolishing slavery and granting 
equal rights of sufifrage, military control of such States should cease 
and they should be returned to the Union. The tact and courage 
of these military governors were severely tested. The conditions 
under which they wrought were so variant and perplexing that sev- 
eral of them asked for instructions from Washington as to how to 
enforce certain clauses of the reconstruction acts. 

The task of formulating such instructions gave Stanton an op- 
portunity to place Johnson and his cabinet on record. It is not 
known that he ever made formal notes of cabinet proceedings in 
more than three instances ; vis., when discussing the evacuation of 
Fort Sumter in Buchanan's cabinet; when vehemently urging the 
emancipation of slaves in Lincoln's cabinet ; and when debating the 
question of whether the military governors of the lately seceded 
States were to obey the laws of Congress or obey the whims of the 

Cabinet had met pursuant to agreement to approve and issue 
the instructions asked for by the military governors. Instead of 
proceeding to do so, Johnson presented what Stanton called an ex- 
traordinary "string of questions" prepared for him by Attorney- 
General Stanbery, on which categorical answers were demanded. 
Stanton suggested that copies of the questions be furnished to each 
secretary and time given for consideration and answer. This was 
denied and what followed is thus described in writing by Stanton 
himself in a memorandum marked "B" and dated "Noon, June 19, 
1867" : 

In Cabinet: The special interrogatories hereinafter mentioned being 
presented by the President to the cabinet for their consideration, the Secre- 
tary of War read to the President and the cabinet the following statement 
of his views: 


In respect to the interpretation of what are called the reconstruction 
acts of Congress, I am of opinion: 

1. That by the act to provide for more efficient government of the rebel 
States and its supplement, Congress designed to establish a military govern- 
ment in the ten rebel States paramount to all other government whatsoever, 
and made those States "subject" to military authority. 

2. That to the commanding general assigned in each district is given 
command over all persons, private or official, in his respective district; that 
command to be sustained by military force adequate to enable the com- 
mander to perform his duties under the act. 

3. That the duties of the military commanders are: To protect all 
persons in their rights of person and property; to suppress all insurrection, 
disorder, or violence; to punish all disturbers of the public peace and crim- 
inals, and to this end {vie, a punishment) they may allow local tribunals 
to try offenders, and may organize military commissions. It is also their 
duty under the supplemental act to cause a registration to be made and elec- 
tion to be held as prescribed by Congress. 

4. That, as the power thus invested in the military commanders em- 
braces the exercise of absolute military "command" in their respective dis- 
tricts, it therefore comprehends the removal from office of any person who 
may hinder, obstruct, or oppose the execution of the specific acts of Con- 
gress, or occasion disorder in the command, and also the appointment of 
any officer whose functions are necessary to afford protection to persons 
and property, or to suppress insurrection, disorder, and violence within the 
command. And hence the military commanders may, by virtue of the acts 
of Congress, remove from office any provisional governor, judge, or public 
officer or agent, and substitute others whenever, in the exercise of reason- 
able discretion, he deems such acts needful for carrying into effect the pro- 
visions of the act of Congress. 

5. That the powers before mentioned are invested by the acts of Con- 
gress immediately and directly in the commanding generals assigned to the 
several districts, and cannot be exercised by the President in person any 
more than he can take upon himself in his own person any other duty of 
military service vested in a speciHc oMcer by law; as for example the duties 
of the quartermaster-general, commissary-general, surgeon-general, chief 
of engineers, or chief of ordnance. 

6. As commander-in-chief, and under his authority to see the laws 
faithfully executed, the President may remove the commander of a district 
for any wilful neglect or wanton abuse of authority; but such removal should 
be for good cause. 

7. That the power of removal being vested in the general commanding 
the district, the President cannot order the reinstatement of any officer 
removed by the commanding general, unless it appear that such removal 
was wanton abuse of authority by the commanding general. 

The special interrogatories presented by the President were then read 
by the Attorney-General and answered as follows: 

Q. 1. Is the power vested in the President to see that the reconstruc- 
tion acts are faithfully executed? 


All except the Secretary of War answered in the affirmative. He an- 
swered as follows: 

Under the limitations and- qualifications expressed in my general view 
of the acts of Congress under consideration just read to the President and 
cabinet, and which is made a part of my answer, I answer in the affirmative. 

Q. 2. Has the President a supervision over the military commanders, 
and are they bound to perform their duties in conformity with his instruc- 

All except the Secretary of War answered in the affirmative, and that 
the President has the same supervision and right of instruction as he has 
of any other acts of Congress. The Secretary of War answered as follows: 

The President has as commander-in-chief a supervision over the mili- 
tary commanders to see that there is no wilful neglect or wanton abuse of 
authority by the generals commanding. But in my opinion the duties as- 
signed to the military commanders in the act to provide for the more effi- 
cient government of the rebel States and its supplement are specifically 
intrusted to them, and they are not bound to perform these duties in con- 
formity to his (the President's) instructions unless they are in accordance 
with the acts of Congress. 

Q. 3. If any one of the military commanders assumes and exercises 
powers not conferred by these acts, or any other acts of Congress, and the 
error is injurious to the execution of these laws or the public welfare, is 
it the duty of the President (if he deem it proper and expedient) to cause 
the error to be corrected? 

All answered in the affirmative except the Secretary of War, who an- 
swered as follows: 

I answer that if the supposed wrongful act of the commanding general 
be a wilful neglect of duty or a wanton abuse of authority that would ob- 
struct or prevent the execution of the acts of Congress under consideration, 
it would in my opinion be the duty of the President to correct it. 

Q. 4. Is an unlimited power conferred on the military commanders to 
abolish, modify, control, or supersede the laws of the State? 

All answered in the negative, that Congress had not conferred such 
unlimited power, except the Secretary of War, who answered as follows: 

I answer that Congress in the preamble of the act to provide for the 
more efficient government of the rebel States has declared among other 
things, that no legal State governments exist in said States, and has made 
them subject to military authority, and given command in each district to 
the military commander assigned by the President, and has also provided 
that any civil government which may exist therein shall be deemed to be 
provisional only; I am therefore of the opinion that the military authority 
is paramount, and if the general commanding shall find any State law obstruct- 
ing, impeding, or inconsistent with the due execution of the acts of Con- 
gress under consideration, he has unlimited power to abolish, modify, con- 
trol, or supersede the State law. 

Q. 5. Has a military commander the power to order the established 
courts of the States or of the United States exercising criminal jurisdiction, 
to sentence a criminal to a different mode or degree of punishment than is 
provided by the law of the State or by the Federal law? 


All answered in the negative except the Secretary of War, who answered 
as follows: 

I answer that I have no knowledge of any interference or authority 
having been assumed by any district commander over the action of the 
Federal courts; nor have I knowledge of any such cause in respect to a 
State court, as is assumed by the question. But inasmuch as the State is 
subject to military authority, I am of opinion that a district commander 
may prohibit the execution of corporal punishment by the sentence of a 
State court. I am not aware of any case in which he has authority to com- 
mand a judge to impose any particular sentence, although he may remove 
the judge for good cause. 

The foregoing questions were planned to unite the cabinet 
formally in favor of using the so-called "State governments" in the 
South to annul and overturn the acts of Congress — to reestablish 
State sovereignty where the victory of the Union army had so re- 
cently demolished it. 

Stanton's opposition in writing, notwithstanding the unani- 
mous support of the President's covert scheme by the other mem- 
bers of the cabinet, prevented that course from being taken. They 
felt the overwhelming force of his reasoning and dared not go 
against it as intended. The instructions prepared by Stanton were 
reluctantly issued. 

There is on record no more conspicuous instance of one reso- 
lute patriot thwarting, off-hand, the plans of the President and his 
entire administration. All of Stanton's contentions have been 
amply confirmed by time, Congresses, and courts ; those of Johnson 
and his cabinet have been condemned and rejected as unlawful by 
the same great tribunals — yet how unspeakably unpleasant was 
the patriot's task, and how miserable his compensation! 


The exasperated President was now narrowed down to the al- 
ternative of subsiding or attempting to seize the army and use it 
to subvert the will of Congress and nullify the reconstruction acts 
of March 2 and March 25, 1867. His nature was such that he could 
not subside, and, as Stanton stood resolutely athwart his path, he 
was unable to gain practical control of the army. 

Stanton knew that the military criminals of the war period 
were being pardoned and appointed to office by scores ; that John- 
son had asked to be supplied with a secret telegraph cipher code of 
his own ; that female pardon-brokers were obtaining pardons by the 
thousands for influential secessionists at prices varying from twenty- 
five dollars to six thousand, five hundred dollars each ; that the 
President was acting under the direct guidance of Jeremiah S. Black, 
Reverdy Johnson, Montgomery Blair, Edgar Cowan, and others 
who pretended to hold that reconstruction and military occupancy 
were unconstitutional ; that former leaders of the Rebellion were 
confidential advisers at the White House ; and that all executive ef- 
fort was directed entirely toward reversing the fruits of the war in 
spite of laws, courts, and Congress. He therefore felt convinced 
that to leave his post at such a moment, no matter how distasteful 
the task of remaining, would betray the loyal masses of the nation 
and encourage the operations of those who were obstructing and 
defying the Federal authorities. 

Seeing that Stanton would not resign, and that, sustained by 
Congress, he could eflfectually control the situation so long as he 
was able to hold possession of the War Office, Johnson, on August 
5, 1867, in sheer desperation, sent a note to the Secretary, declaring: 
"Public considerations of a high character constrain me to say that 
your resignation will be accepted." Within five minutes Stanton 
replied by messenger: 



Your note of this day has been received stating that public con- 
siderations of a high character constrain you to say that my resignation will 
be accepted. 

In reply I have the honor to say that public considei-ations of a high 
character, which alone have induced me to continue at the head of this De- 
partment, constrain me not to resign the office of secretary of war before 
the next meeting of Congress. 

On the 12th Johnson sent a letter of suspension to Stanton and 
appointed Grant secretary of war ad interim. Before he could reply 
to the letter of suspension, Stanton received a note from Grant, 
after which he sent the following to the President: 


Your note has been received informing me that by virtue of the 
powers and authority invested in you as president by the constitution and 
laws of the United States, I am suspended from office as secretary of war, 
and will cease to exercise any and all functions pertaining to the same; and 
also directing me to at once transfer to General Ulysses S. Grant, who has 
this day been authorized and empowered to act as secretary of war ad in- 
terim, all records, books, papers, and other public property now in my 
custody and charge. 

Under my sense of public duty I am compelled to deny your right, 
under the constitution and laws of the United States, without the advice 
and consent of the Senate and without legal cause, to suspend me from the 
office of secretary of war, or the exercise of any and all functions, or to 
transfer to any person the records, books, papers, and public property in my 
custody as secretary. 

But, inasmuch as the general commanding the armies of the United 
States has been appointed ad interim, and has notified me that he has ac- 
cepted the appointment, I have no alternative but to submit to superior 

Of course Stanton was not compelled "to submit to superior 
force," except theoretically. When Johnson first proposed to make 
him secretary of war ad interim, Grant went direct from the White 
House to Stanton and disclosed the executive program, explaining 
that if he should conclude to accept, it would be for no purpose 
whatever beyond that of preventing the War Department from fal- 
ling into the hands of one of Johnson's tools who would use it for 
the subversion of Congress. 

At first Grant opposed the removal of Stanton, arguing against 
it before the entire cabinet — a fact, however, that was unknown to 
the Secretary. He advised the President and the cabinet repeat- 


edly that the loyal portion of the country would not submit to such 
an ill-advised manoeuvre. He also thrice protested in writing, his 
letter of August 1, 1867, to the President, being as follows: 

I take the liberty of addressing you privately on the subject of the 
conversation we had this morning, feeling as I do the great danger to the 
welfare of the country should you carry out the designs then expressed. 

First, on the displacement of the Secretary of War: His removal can- 
not be effected against his will without the consent of the Senate. It is 
but a short time since the United States Senate was in session, and why 
not then have asked his removal, if it was so desired? 

It certainly was the intention of the legislative branch of the Govern- 
ment to place cabinet ministers beyond the power of executive removal; 
and it is pretty well understood that as far as cabinet ministers are affected 
by the tenure-of-office bill, it was intended specially to protect the Secre- 
tary of War, whom the country felt much confidence in. 

The meaning may be explained by an astute lawyer [J. S. Black] 
but common sense and the views of the people will give it the effect in- 
tended by its framers. 

In conclusion, allow me to say as a friend desiring peace and quiet — 
the welfare of the whole country North and South — that it is, in my 
opinion, more than the loyal people of this country (I mean those who sup- 
ported the Government during the great Rebellion) will quietly submit to, 
to see the man of all others whom they have expressed confidence in, re- 

Notwithstanding this protest, Grant accepted. In fact, when 
the notice of his appointment was handed to him by Colonel W, G. 
Moore, Johnson's secretary, he said : "This is an order [it was in 
reality not an "order" but only an appointment] from the Presi- 
dent; ,1 do not see how I can disobey." 

However, before the appointment was made and delivered as 
stated. Grant met the President with his cabinet and agreed, or in 
some way gave them to understand (five of them, in addition to 
Johnson himself, so stating in writing) that he would keep Stanton 
out of the War Department in case the Senate should refuse to con- 
firm his own appointment as secretary ad interim, and thus compel 
the deposed Secretary either to submit or to resort to the courts 
for reinstatement. 

Stanton was silent and manifestly displeased when Grant in- 
formed him that if he should accept it would be simply to tie the 
President's hands so he could not get possession of the War Ofiice. 
He did not want Grant to accept. He was fearful of the outcome. 
He knew that Grant could not take his own place before and had 
no influence with Congress, and he could not see how anything was 

Wm. M. Evarts, 
Attorney- General. 

Caleb Gushing, 
Attorney- General. 


to be gained by the change. His letter to the President, above 
quoted, unquestionably reflected his true feelings about the matter. 

Very naturally the country was greatly astonished to see 
Grant enter the cabinet which was struggling to nullify his own 
glorious achievements as a soldier. The people could not know of 
his agreement with Stanton, nor see that what seemed to be a mas- 
ter-stroke on the part of the rampant President was really the first 
step toward ultimate defeat. 

Major A. E. H. Johnson, confidential clerk to Stanton, con- 
tinued in that capacity with Grant, reporting now and then to his 
former chief the inconsequential developments of the War Depart- 
ment. He says : 

Had General McClellan or General Steedman or General Ewing or 
General Cox or General Sherman, to all of whom, I believe, the War De- 
partment was offered, accepted, Mr. Stanton would have resisted because 
Congress, by the tenure-of-office law of March, 1867, had placed him above 
the President; but he trusted Grant. 

When Grant accepted, the Democratic and copperhead and even the 
Southern press took him under its wing and patted and petted him as one of 
them. The Richmond Dispatch declared gleefully that the President now 
had a right arm and the Inquirer observed that Johnson did not appoint 
Grant until "satisfied of his support." Other Southern papers commented 
in the same vein, and with unconcealed satisfaction. 

However, they as well as the President and his advisers, as 
we shall soon see, were doomed to the keenest disappointment ; for 
Grant kept sacred to the end not his direct promise to Johnson, but 
his implied promise to Stanton. 


At the time of his suspension Stanton was penniless* so far as 
cash was concerned, and in a precarious condition, physically. He 
said to General J. K. Moorhead, his old Pittsburg friend : "Gen- 
eral, I have no money, not even enough to pay my marketing bills. 
I wish you would loan three thousand dollars to me. You know my 
Monongahela coal lands are ample security." 

The loan was promptly made, but no security accepted ; and 
with these funds he proceeded at once to the shores of Cape Cod 
with his family, as the guest of Samuel Hooper at fresh and beauti- 
ful Cotuit. There, wholly relaxed, like one set free from prison, he 
drank in the ocean air and seemed to live a year in every day. De- 
clining an invitation to accept the hospitalities of the City of Boston, 
tendered on August 22, 1867, he left Cotuit for St. Albans, Vermont, 
to visit ex-Governor and Mrs. Gregory Smith. Of this visit the hos- 
tess says: 

Mr. Stanton's enjoyment of the surroundings astonished me. The 
evening of his arrival he immediately went out of the house and ran across 
the garden like a boy, exclaiming: "How delightful the air is. I can 
breathe! See, I can breathe!" 

His terrible enemy, asthma, retired for a moment and the weary war- 
worn veteran threw aside his armor and, forgetting the nightmare horrors 
from which he had so recently emerged, drank in the repose and recreation 
he so greatly needed. 

All the sternness and severity of his countenance passed away. He 
joked and laughed with the children; rode often with my young daughter in 
a single carriage; walked alone in the grove and garden and when, late in 
the evening, we gathered in the library, discussed various subjects or told 
us stories of the war. 

*Says Major A. E. H. Johnson: "When the Secretary left the Depart- 
ment to General Grant, he had $4.76 as a balance from his last month's 
salary, and by my confidential relations with him I knew that he had not 
another dollar." 


He remained with us about a week, submitting graciously to a large 
reception given in his honor and to various diversions planned for his en- 
joyment. After he returned to Washington he wrote me a very beautiful 
letter, breathing throughout the spirit of a gentle, tender, and sympathetic 
nature that would astonish those who knew him only in his official capacity. 
That letter I cannot find, but I enclose another written a year later, briefer 
than the first, yet full of tenderness, gratitude, and affection. 

The letter mentioned is as follows : 

Washington City, August 31, 1868. 
My Dear Mrs. Smith: 

As the anniversary of our visit to St. Albans last year approaches, my 
thoughts often turn to you and my esteemed friend, your husband, and 
your interesting family group, and the strangers then but no longer so 
who extended to me, as your friend, so kind a reception. But especially 
to your household my heart's cherished remembrance is chiefly due for the 
many acts of kindness never to be forgotten. I hope you and the Governor 
and your children are well. You all live in our thoughts, and even our own 
little Bessie talks of Anna and asks why she does not write her a letter. 

We have spent at home a very pleasant summer, except for the illness 
ot Mrs. Stanton's mother — that broke up my arrangements for a trip to the 
Northwest, including Lake Superior, to which I had been looking forward 
with much anticipated pleasure. 

I beg you to give my kindest regards to the Governor and all your 
children, especially my dear Miss Anna, whose health I regretted to hear 
was not good in the spring. I indulge the hope that she has many pleasant 
drives such as I enjoyed in her company. Please tell your father I was 
disappointed that he did not make his contemplated visit to Washington, 
although there was not much here that would have gratified him last 
winter. I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. and Mrs. Dutcher when they 
were here and beg you to give them my kind regards and also their son, 
whom I met at Sunday school. 

Mrs. Stanton has just come in from a morning visit and learning that I 
am writing to you, insists on my sending you her love with kindest regards 
to the Governor and her friend Anna and the other members of your 
family, while Bessie sends a "heartful" on her own account. 

For yourself, dear madam, I shall always cherish sentiments of pro- 
found admiration and respect, ever remaining most sincerely. 

Your friend, 

Mrs. Governor Smith. Edwin M. Stanton. 

His enjoyment was more perfect at St. Albans because he was 
receiving reports from his faithful clerk that Grant, as he had 
agreed, was "doing nothing beyond holding the fort, driving his 
horses, and visiting with his cronies." In other words, Grant was 


simply occupying the position pro forma to prevent President John- 
son from appointing anybody else thereto previous to the meeting 
of Congress, and Congress supported Stanton. 

In the meantime hostilities had been opened from other direc- 
tions. Judge Black conceived the idea of inducing the State of 
Georgia to appear before the United States Supreme Court and ask 
for a writ restraining Stanton and the commander of the military 
district of which that commonwealth formed a part from executing 
the reconstruction acts. On April 16, 1867, Stanton was sub- 
poenaed to answer why such a writ should not issue. The question 
was argued on its merits and the Court held, unanimously, that no 
such writ should issue,* the Court having no jurisdiction over "po- 
litical rights, rights of State sovereignty, or political jurisdiction of 
executive officers." 

Almost simultaneously with the Georgia case a petition came 
up from Mississippi also asking the United States to restrain Presi- 
dent Johnson or any other officer from carrying the reconstruction 
acts into effect. The Court did not receive the paper, holding that 
motions and writs directed against the President could not be enter- 
tained. However, in the case of William McCardle of Mississippi, 
the President's attorneys found a clearer field. 

McCardle, in his newspaper, opposed reconstruction and libeled 
General E. O. C. Ord, military commander of the district, Ord 
arrested McCardle, who sought from the United States District 
Judge a writ of habeas corpus for his release, which was denied. 
An appeal was taken to the United States Supreme Court at the 
December term, 1867, when the entire issue of reconstruction, the 
right of the nation to live, was put upon trial, with several of Presi- 
dent Johnson's advisers acting also as McCardle's lawyers. 

Stanton alone was left to defend the loyal people and their Gov- 
ernment. To do this he engaged Matthew H. Carpenter of Wis- 
consin, who, taking rooms in the War Department, was constantly 
advised by him in the preparation of the brief.f At the conclusion 

*See Georgia vs. Stanton, 6 Wallace, 63. 

fin a letter to his wjfe, Carpenter wrote: "I got my big brief into the 
hands of the Government printer this morning. Stanton ordered one 
thousand to be printed. I went by his direction to confer with William M. 
Meredith, who, he says, is the biggest lawyer he ever knew. I read my 
brief to him and he said he had not a single suggestion to make; that it 
was unanswerable on every point. That pleased Stanton as much as it did 


of the argument, to which he was a grave and intensely interested 
listener, Stanton threw his arms about Carpenter, exclaiming fer- 
vently: "You have saved us, you have saved us!" 

While the case was under advisement by the justices, the pro- 
vision of the reconstruction act permitting appeals was wiped out 
by Congress, and McCardle was remanded to prison. That was the 
last suit of the kind Stanton was called upon to defend. There- 
after Congress was supreme in reconstruction matters, and carried 
them out almost literally along the lines laid down in the project 
Stanton conceived, prepared, and handed to Lincoln on the day pre- 
ceding the assassination. 

me, which I confess was considerable. Stanton sent for me this morning 
and said: 'You may as well understand that you are in for the whole fight. 
Take a room in the Department and be at home.' He then delivered to me 
the key to No. 29 and a check for $5,000 as a retainer." 


On the 12th of December, 1867, President Johnson sent a mes- 
sage informing the Senate, which had just convened, that he had 
suspended Stanton in August and appointed Grant as secretary of 
war ad interim. As soon as this message was printed, Stanton sent 
an answer to the Senate, setting the first precedent in our history of 
a cabinet officer officially controverting the chief executive before 
the high advisory body of the United States Senate. 

As reasons for the suspension, Johnson alleged that Stanton, 
when advised in August that his resignation would be accepted, 
made a "defiant" reply; that he counseled the President to veto the 
tenure-of-office act but, when the bill was passed over the Presi- 
dent's veto and became a law, insisted on compliance with its provis- 
ions ; that he was the author of the President's policy of reconstruc- 
tion which he now opposed and that he did not exculpate the Presi- 
dent from responsibility for the New Orleans riot (of July, 1867). 

Stanton's answer was complete, summoning the entire record 
in the controversy and showing that the President's trail was 
crooked from beginning to end. It is not printed here in extenso 
because the preceding and following chapters bring out (in connec- 
tion with and illustrated by the peculiar circumstances surrounding 
them) all the essential facts stated by Stanton. 

As to the second charge, he said in part : 

My alleged opposition to the bill regulating the tenure of civil oflfices 
presents the singular complaint of agreement in one instance with Mr. 
Johnson. I did oppose the tenure-of-office bill; so did he. But when it 
became a law by a two-thirds vote over the veto objections, it was his duty 
and mine, as executive officers, to respect and obey it. 

My disapproval of the measure when it was but a bill, and especially to 
that part which retained members of the cabinet, was no secret in or out of 
the cabinet. When the bill was before Congress, I advised against its pas- 
sage. It was publicly advocated in the debates in Congress as necessary 
to protect the Secretary of War against Mr. Johnson's hostility. But while 
thankful for the confidence this evinced, I asked no protection; Mr. Bing- 


ham was requested to ask my friends to have the provision stricken out; 
and after the bill passed, I hoped it would be reconsidered and fail after 
veto and would cheerfully have stated my objections in the form of a veto, 
had time and health permitted. 

As Congress, in spite of Mr. Johnson's opposition and mine, reserved 
the right of final judgment on the removal or suspension of an officer, it 
was no misconduct to protest against the violation of the tenure act in my 
person, unless it be wrong to conform to a law disapproved before its pas- 
sage. This seems to be Mr. Johnson's view, and forms an aggravation of 
my offense. 

To the charge that he now opposed the reconstruction policy 
of which he himself was the author, Stanton's answer was crushing. 
He showed how Johnson, stealing and slightly patching up the 
preliminary plan prepared by Stanton for Lincoln just before the 
assassination, claimed the entire project as his own ; and then when 
he had so radically changed the plan that the country rose up in 
indignant protest against it, he cried out that the child which he had 
previously claimed was not his own after all, but Stanton's. 

He showed how the testimony he had given before the commit- 
tees of Congress that investigated reconstruction had been falsified 
by Johnson, who suppressed the part declaring "my opinion is that 
the whole subject of reconstruction * * * jg subject to the con- 
trolling power of Congress," and averred anew : 

I always maintained the paramount power of Congress over recon- 
struction, and when he set up his claim to absolute and exclusive control, 
♦his conflict of executive power against the authority of Congress produced 
differences between Mr. Johnson and the Secretary of War, who stood alone 
after the resignation of the Secretary of the Interior, Postmaster-General, 
and Attorney-General, against Mr. Johnson's claim of supremacy. 

He then concluded: 

It is true that in this case personal considerations would have led me 
long ago to sever my relations with Mr. Johnson. But under authority 
from Congress, and Mr. Lincoln's order, I had as secretary of war put over 
a million of men into the field, and I was unwilling to abandon the victory 
they had won, or to see the "lost cause" restored over the graves of nearly 
four hundred thousand soldiers, or to witness four millions of freedmen 
subjected, for want of legal protection, to outrages against their lives, per- 
sons, and property, and their race in danger of being returned to some 
newly-invented bondage. 

For these reasons I have resolved to bear all and suffer all while con- 
tending against such results. Hence the indirect modes of displacing me 
failed of their purpose; and I am thankful that, standing alone as I did, for 


twelve months, giving the President faithfully and frankly my best judgment 
on the grave questions in agitation, 1 had the endurance and fortitude to 
bear writh tranquil patience the modes employed to induce me to surrender 
my post. 

If I have rendered any service to the country, or done anything to 
maintain its peace, it was by standing resolutely at my post fearlessly to 
give Mr. Johnson good advice. Supported by the highest considerations 
of public duty, the tenacity of my purpose was proof against all indirect 
modes to displace me. 

But in all these differences of opinion respecting Mr. Johnson's recon- 
struction policy, during a period of two years, while for a part of the time 
he, by his confession, was employing every mode to induce my resignation 
short of express request, it is not complained that my bearing was disre- 
spectful, or other than was due from the head of a Department to the chief 

Heretofore I have foreborne to reply to accusations, content with the 
consciousness of adhering to duty, and unwilling to seek the good opinions 
of men otherwise than by the faithful performance of the tasks devolved 
upon me; and I am influenced to answer these charges, not by their weight, 
for they have none, but in deference to the Senate of the United States. 

After considering the letter from which the foregoing is ex- 
tracted, the Senate refused to recognize the suspension of Stanton 
and the appointment of Grant. The vote, taken late in the evening, 
was unanimous among the Republican senators. John W. Forney, 
secretary of the Senate, drove in great haste to inform Stanton, glee- 
fully, that he had been reinstated, and later sent messengers, with 
the official information, to Grant and the White House. 

Next morning early, before Johnson or his agents could act, 
Stanton entered the War Office and resumed his duties as secretary 
of war. 


While Grant was sincere in his secret cooperation with Stanton 
to thwart Johnson, he was piqued at the unceremonious way in 
which Stanton resumed possession of the War Department. He did 
not at the moment reaHze that Stanton must secure actual physical 
possession in advance of any agent of the President, or be placed at 
a decided disadvantage. 

Johnson, too, was exasperated — excessively enraged — for he 
had been defeated by Grant's failure to keep his promise to hold 
the War Department at all hazards. He consulted J. S. Black and 
other lawyers as to whether he could use the army to forcibly re- 
move Stanton, and asked several army officers whether they would 
obey direct orders from the President to that effect. General W. 
H. Emory (commanding the Department at Washington), General 
Grant, and General Sherman replied that they would obey no such 
orders. He then conceived the idea of creating the military "De- 
partment of the Atlantic," with headquarters in the War Office, and 
appointing General Sherman to be its commander and also secre- 
tary of war. He believed that Sherman's personal hostility to Stan- 
ton for reversing the deplorable Sherman- Johnston-Davis terms of 
surrender was great enough to lead him to use force, if necessary, 
to gain and hold possession of the War Office. On this point Major 
A. E. H. Johnson makes some interesting disclosures : 

General W. T. Sherman now appeared and joined with his brother John 
Sherman, General Grant, Judge J. S. Black, the Blairs, and a band of cop- 
perheads encamped about the White House in the efforts to oust Stanton. 

Grant and Sherman, after consulting the President, agreed to go to- 
gether and ask Stanton to resign. The date of their going and the purpose 
were advertised — probably by the President himself. Sherman did not sum- 
mon courage to keep his promise, but Grant called, though he did not find 
a way to suggest resignation. Stanton expected and was ready for such 
a suggestion and knew precisely how to meet it. Through Walter L. Dunn, 
a soldier detailed there who carefully noted all callers and conversations, 
he knew all that was transpiring at the White House, 


Stanton appreciated the fact that Grant was destroying his strength 
and usefulness, encouraging the South to renew efforts for supremacy, and 
tending inevitably toward national unrest and turmoil. Grant, too, knew 
how the country, North and South, interpreted his partnership with John- 
son, for he read it everywhere, and it was told to him repeatedly by the 
foremost men of the nation. He also knew of Johnson's determination to 
resist Congress, to seize the army and use force to dispossess Stanton, and 
Stanton knew that he knew it. 

History no longer questions the character of Johnson's designs. That 
he intended, if he could secure the cooperation of an adequate tool, to 
forcibly eject Stanton in spite of the law and the adverse vote of the Senate, 
is established by Grant himself as well as by General Sherman's "confiden- 
tial" letter to the President, in which he says, subsequently declining to 
enter upon the desperate scheme: 

"Your personal preferences, as expressed, were to remove Mr. Stanton 
from his office as secretary of war and have me discharge the duty. To 
effect this removal two modes were indicated: to simply cause him to quit 
the War Office building and not to respect him as secretary of war; or to 
remove him and submit my name to the Senate for confirmation." 

Grant and Sherman were both too much afraid of the law and of Con- 
gress to go to violent extremes, and suddenly disconnected themselves from 
Johnson's revolutionary plans. 

Thus checkmated, Johnson, partially in writing and fully by 
parol, forbade Grant to obey orders emanating from Stanton, but 
the Treasury Department continued to honor the Secretary's requi- 
sitions and the military establishment to obey his orders. 

Johnson then assailed Grant in a series of letters of great 
strength, said to have been composed by his attorney, J. S. Black. 
One of them is given a place here because it confirms the statement 
made previously that Stanton did not leave the Department in Au- 
gust, 1867, until Grant had given a pledge that the office should not, 
under any circumstances, be turned over to Johnson or his tools 
prior to the meeting of Congress : 

I deem it proper, before concluding this letter, to notice some of the 
statements contained in your letter. You [Grant] say that performance of 
the promises alleged to have been made by you to the President "would 
have involved a resistance to law and an inconsistency with the whole 
history of your connection with the suspension of Mr. Stanton." You then 
state that you had fears that the President would, on the removal of Mr. 
Stanton, appoint some one in his place who would embarrass the army in 
carrying out the reconstruction acts and add: "It was to prevent such an 
appointment that I accepted the oMce of secretary of war ad interim and not for 
the purpose of enabling you to get rid of Mr. Stanton by my withholding it frpm 


htm in opposition to the law, or surrendering it to one who would do so, as 
the statements and assumption in your communication plainly indicate 
was sought." 

First of all you here admit, that from the very beginning of "the whole 
history" of your conduct in connection with Mr. Stanton's suspension, you 
intended to circumvent the President. It was to carry out that intent that 
you accepted the appointment. This was in your mind at the time of ac- 
ceptance. It was not, then, in obedience to the order of your superior, as 
had heretofore been supposed, that you assumed the duties of the office. 
you knew it was the President's purpose to prevent Mr. Stanton from resuming 
th,' office of secretary of war; and you intended to defeat that purpose. You 
accepted the office, not in the interest of the President but of Mr. Stanton! 
You not only concealed your design from the President, but induced him to 
suppose that you would carry out his purpose to keep Mr. Stanton out of 
oftice by retaining it yourself after an attempted restoration by the Senate, 
so as to require Mr. Stanton to establish his right by judicial decision. 

The above is essentially a true statement of the case. Grant 
promised Stanton that he would not permit the War Office to fall 
into the hands of Johnson, and he kept the promise, although 
obliged to deceive the President and his cabinet to do so. He did it 
for the benefit of his country, North and South. 

Undaunted in his purpose, Johnson now adopted a more start- 
ling course. Having worked General Lorenzo Thomas up to the 
point of promising "to obey orders," he restored him to duty as 
adjutant-general on February 13, and on the 21st issued this order 
to Stanton : 

You are hereby removed from the office as Secretary of the Department 
of War, and your functions as such will terminate upon the reception of 
this communication. You will transfer to Brevet-Major-General Lorenzo 
Thomas, adjutant-general of the army, who has this day been authorized 
and empowered to act as secretary of war ad interim, all records, books, 
papers, and other property now in your charge. 

Within an hour Stanton communicated the foregoing to the 
Senate and House and "commanded" Thomas "to abstain from issu- 
ing any orders other than in your capacity as adjutant of the army." 

Immediately thereafter Stanton dictated to A. S. Worthington, 
who copied and delivered at army headquarters, the following to 
General Grant : 

As secretary of war I command you to arrest and confine General Lo- 
renzo Thomas, adjutant-general, for disobedience to superior authority in 
refusing to obey my orders as secretary of war. 


"A few moments later," says Colonel Worthington, "General 
Grant and his aides clattered into the hall. Holding the order of 
arrest in his hand, Grant entered the Secretary's room and a private 
conference of perhaps half an hour followed. The nature of it can 
only be surmised, but the arrest was not put on file and Grant never 
after that was friendly to the President,"* and never thereafter, 
Stanton excepted, spoke to a member of the cabinet. 

That evening, after receiving the President's order to "go ahead 
and take possession of the War Office — find the necessary means" — • 
Thomas attended a masquerade ball, announcing as he waltzed 
about that he should take possession on the following morning, 
"battering down the doors" if he found them locked and meeting 
"force with force" if Stanton should resist. He invited his friends 
to "come and see the performance" ; he was "going to kick Stanton 
out." Washington was in high excitement. Thomas expressly 
stated that he was "acting on the advice of the President, who had 
good attorneys," and could call on Grant, who would have no dis- 
cretion but to "obey an order from his superior officer," for sufficient 
force to dislodge Stanton, and that "success was certain." 

Johnson was advised at this moment, says Henry Wilson, that 
his performance might result in impeachment. "Impeach and be 

d d," he roared in a terrific rage. "I'll put Stanton out if I have 

to be tried and shot for it !" 

Stanton, learning these threats, sent this note to Senator Ed- 
munds by a special messenger: 

I am informed that Adjutant-General Thomas is boasting that he in- 
tends to take possession of the War Office at 9 to-morrow morning. If 
the Senate does not declare its opinion of the law, how am I to hold pos- 

The Senate, acting on the note to Senator Edmunds, by unani- 
mous party vote refused to confirm Thomas and also "Resolved, 
that under the constitution of the United States the President has no 
power to remove the Secretary of War and designate any other of- 
ficer to perform the duties of that office ad interim." 

If this had not been done, Stanton would have left his office 
the next day, feeling that Congress did not care to save itself. 

*After Grant had been elected president he refused to ride to the inau- 
guration in the carriage with Johnson. 


At 10 o'clock that evening (February 21) copies of the resolu- 
tion were transmitted to Stanton, Johnson, and Thomas. There- 
upon threats to employ the army to "kick Stanton out" — John- 
son's exact words — became more emphatic, and leading Republi- 
cans gathered in the War Department, where the Secretary had 
already fortified himself, to aid in resisting whatever siege might 
be laid. 

After full discussion among those present, Stanton advised the 
arrest of Thomas on civil process and the impeachment of Johnson. 
The complaint against the former was signed by Stanton at 2 
o'clock next morning (the 22nd), Judge David K. Cartter issuing a 
warrant thereon which was promptly served. At 9 o'clock Thomas 
was not in the Secretary's office but before the court to answer for 
his conduct. 

Being released on his own recognizance,* he returned to the 
President, who again ordered him to "go ahead and take possession 
of the War Department," which order he attempted to execute not- 
withstanding the fact that he was under arrest. 

The effort was ineffective. He could not secure sufficient help 
to overcome the large number of distinguished citizens and officials 
by whom Stanton was surrounded. 

*Thomas was discharged on Stanton's motion after articles of impeach- 
ment had been brought in against his superior, the President, for practically 
the same offense. 


The day after Stanton's reinstatement, a large delegation of 
members of the House, headed by Speaker Colfax, called to ask him 
not to resign. This remarkable appeal was based particularly upon 
Stanton's answer to the President's request for his resignation, 
wherein he retorted : "Public considerations of a high character, 
which alone have induced me to continue at the head of the De- 
partment, constrain me not to resign the office of secretary of war 
before the next meeting of Congress." 

This indicated, which was the fact, that he intended to resign 
after Congress had convened ; but on receiving the resolution rein- 
stating him, he said : "I will obey the mandate of the Senate." 
Next morning, however, the city and Congress were full of unau- 
thorized talk that he intended to resign, as he was satisfied with his 
vindication by the Senate. 

This was what Congress did not want, and Speaker Colfax, 
accompanied by half a hundred representatives, personally pre- 
sented a letter signed by sixty others who could not be present, re- 
questing Stanton to continue as secretary of war. The Speaker 
stated that "since the passage of the tenure-of-office law Mr. Stan- 
ton had become an officer of the people, and not removable without 
the consent of the Senate ; that he ought not to resign unless the 
people demanded it and that the people wanted and expected him to 
retain his place." 

Mr. Colfax referred to him as "the Thermopylae, the pass of 
greatest value to reconstruction by Congress ; that on him rested 
the safety of reconstruction ; that the people and the loyal press 
would sustain him ; that the great Republican party was at his back ; 
that Congress was ready and willing to make any laws for the great- 
est security and power of the commanders on whom would devolve 

♦Prepared from notes supplied entirely by Major A. E. H. Johnson, who 
took them on the spot. 


reconstruction ; that he carried his colors open and represented 
more than any man of the day the policy of Lincoln and the spirit 
of the people who crushed the great Rebellion, and who were de- 
termined to see that victory stand to give peace to the Republic." 

Mr. Moorhead of Pittsburg said there was now a "complete 
rupture between the legislative and executive departnaents of the 
Government; that there was no one left on whom Congress could 
rely to execute its laws but the Secretary of War; that the Presi- 
dent was aiming to get control of the army; that to defeat that aim 
the public insisted that the Secretary cooperate with Congress ; that 
in that struggle the Secretary would have the support of General 
Grant ; that for this he had come to ask Stanton to stay." 

Mr. Kelley of Philadelphia said "the occasion that had brought 
them to the War Department was full of solemn forebodings ; and 
for the Secretary to leave the post the Senate had put him in would 
mean turning the army over to the man who was plotting ways to 
defeat the reconstruction laws Congress had made and to use the 
military to undo what our great volunteer armies had gained." 

Mr. Van Horn said that "the Secretary's duties were severe and 
exacting, the hours anxious and weary ; but he had won the respect 
and confidence of the people, who demanded that he make whatever 
further sacrifices might be required and stand by Congress in its 
bitter struggle with the President." 

Mr. Ferry said that "having been the mainstay in war, Mr. 
Stanton was now needed more than before in his Department ; that, 
to rule or ruin, the President had the hunter's zeal for the chase, 
which grows from season to season, and that if there ever was a 
time when the statesmanship and force of the Secretary were needed 
to meet the impending destruction, it had come, and he must not 

'Mr. Delano said that "Congress had made a law and the Senate 
just reenacted it, making the Secretary of War above the President; 
that it was the intention of Congress that he should be the sole 
power of the War Department; that rumors of the wild intentions 
of the President were flying thick and fast and that they had come 
to ask him not to give up to this power ; that with Congress holding 
the Department through him and the army through Grant, the 
rage of the President would undo himself instead of the country." 
R. W. Clarke, of Ohio, said that, "as in the dark days the 
nation looked to the Secretary of War, so now Congress looked to 


him; that as he had served Lincoln with heroic power, so now he 
must serve Congress, and save the country." 

Mr. Dodge said "the President was under the dehision that the 
Senate was disgusted because the Secretary of War was staying in 
a cabinet where he was not wanted, and that Trumbull and Fessen- 
den would vote against his reinstatement. On the contrary Fessen- 
den made the most earnest and able speech for the greatest war min- 
ister ever upon the earth, as the link which was destined to bind into 
continuity a Government that was so far imperiled to hang upon 
a single thread of loyalty and courage ; and that the Secretary was 
the most promising victim of the hate and venom which character- 
ized the official acts of the renegade at the White House toward 
loyal officers and people throughout the land. Mr. Stanton is not 
asked to stay as a member of that man's cabinet, but as a para- 
mount member of a Congress to which he could come for any law or 
authority he wanted ; that he had been suspended because he was 
true to the policy of Congress and the country, and for such fidelity 
Congress had given him a world-wide reputation which would sur- 
vive the treachery of the President; that for this they had come to 
ask him to stay ; that never before in the history of the Government 
had such a delegation with such a letter called upon any servant of 
the Government to ask him not to resign." 

One member said he "did not come to ofifer congratulations, but 
Oil more important business ; that he did not believe that Mr. Stan- 
ton could have received the unanimous vote of the Republican sena- 
tors if they had entertained a suspicion that he would resign." 

Mr. Lawrence said "it seemed that the crucial hour of the Gov- 
ernment had been transferred from the field of war ; that the enemy 
at the South had joined hands with the enemy at the North — had 
fianked our armies and was on the way to seize Congress, but that, 
fortunately, Congress still had its great captain who had just been 
given a new commission." 

Mr. Stanton's short, simple answer at the conclusion of the 
speeches, "I will not resign," was hailed with enthusiastic clapping 
of hands and expressions of supreme gladness. The great delega- 
tion withdrew, happy in the thought that the country was secure. 

The picture of Congress at the feet of a single cabinet minister 
to save themselves from a rampant president is indeed interesting 
and remarkable! 


In addition to the demands of the loyal press of the nation, and 
of the great congressional delegation, the unexpected turn which 
had occurred in the battle with the President was potent in deter- 
mining Stanton to stay. The whole controversy had changed. The 
Secretary was momentarily in the background and Grant, as the 
only way out of his fearful broil with the President, was now urging 
Stanton to stay in the office from which, by the aid of the President, 
he had so recently been trying to oust him ! 

The following extraordinary letter to General P. H. Sheridan, 
commander of the military district of Texas, shows how completely 
Grant changed front and how oracular were Stanton's words in the 
Ashley letter: 

I regret to say that since the unfortunate difference between the Presi- 
dent and Congress the former becomes more violent with the opposition he 
meets with, until now but few people who were loyal to the Government 
during the Rebellion seem to have any influence with him. None have unless 
they join in the crusade against Congress, and declare their acts, the prin- 
cipal ones, illegal; and indeed I much fear that we are fast approaching the 
time when he will want to declare that body itself illegal, unconstitutional, 
and revolutionary. 

Commanders in Southern States will take great care to see, if a crisis 
does come, that no armed headway can be made against the Union. 

For this reason it will be very desirable that Texas should have 
no reasonable excuse for calling out the militia authorized by their legis- 
lature. Indeed, it should be prevented. 

I write this in strict confidence, but to let you know how matters stand 
in my opinion, so that you may square your official action accordingly. 

I gave orders quietly two or three weeks since for the removal of all 
arms in store in the Southern States to Northern arsenals. I wish you 
would see that those from Baton Rouge and other places within your com- 
mand are being moved rapidly by the ordnance officers having the matter 
in charge. 

Thus, step by step does Stanton's perfect vindication irresist- 
ibly unfold itself ; but how miserably do the historians of other lead- 
ing actors in that tragic field of chaos submerge his heroic services 
in order to mend the tortuous and unworthy records with which 
they are compelled to deal ! 



In the House of Representatives Stanton's communication an- 
nouncing Johnson's illegal appointment of Thomas had been re- 
ferred, without debate, to the Committee on Reconstruction, which, 
on the following day (February 22) reported a resolution that Presi- 
dent Johnson be impeached. Next day (Sunday) before midnight 
Stanton dictated to A. S. Worthington, now a distinguished at- 
torney of Washington, ten articles of impeachment and on Monday, 
the 24th, the House adopted a resolution, 126 to 47, to apprise the 
Senate that the articles upon which the trial of impeachment must 
take place would be brought in at once. 

The managers added article XL, which is a condensed summary 
of the ten articles prepared by Stanton. The whole was agreed to 
on March 3 and on the 5th was presented by the House to the 
Senate as the grand inquest of the nation, Chief Justice Chase pre- 

The articles charged the President with violating the tenure-of- 
civil-oflfice law of March 2, 1867, in attempting to eject Edwin M. 
Stanton from the office of secretary of war without the advice and 
consent of the Senate and while that body was in session ; in trea- 
sonable utterances against Congress by advising the masses in pub- 
lic speeches that it was "no Congress" and promising, with the help 
of "you soldiers and people," to "kick them out" ; in uttering pub- 
licly language "indecent and unbecoming" to the high office of 
president, etc., etc. 

The trial was conducted for the President by William M. 
Evarts, Benjamin R. Curtis, Jeremiah S. Black, Thomas A. R. Nel- 
son, and Henry Stanbery ;* and on behalf of the House — John A. 
Bingham, chairman of the managers — largely by Benjamin F. But- 
ler, and was very ably managed. It was concluded on May 26 by a 

•^Mr. Stanbery resigned from the cabinet in order to defend Johnson. 

JdATiGTF-AIVld 26 "^ISGa.^ 

TlieTote of the Senate, sittm^ as aHiglL Coiu't of Lnpeacli- 

iiient for llie trialof ^^^W^M^IPi-esident of the 

TTiiite d States , upon the 11 111 ,2n(l iind SrdArticle s . 

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Vote of Senate on I.mpeachmeni 


vote of 35 to 19 that respondent was "guilty as charged." As two- 
thirds are required to impeach — in this instance 36 to 18 — Johnson 
escaped by a single vote ! 

Prior to casting the vote, failure to impeach was not supposed 
to be possible, as the Senate was Republican almost four to one. So 
certain was the country that Johnson would be convicted and de- 
posed and that Benjamin F. Wade, as president of the Senate, would 
succeed him in the White House, that a new cabinet was informally 
selected, with Stanton as secretary of the treasury. 

This movement, which became formal in Pennsylvania, led 
Stanton to Avrite this characteristic letter : 

War Department, April 14, 1868. 
Dear Sir: 

Perceiving in this morning's Chronicle that a communication has been 
signed by the Governor of your State, the Republican members of the legis- 
lature, and other persons, asking your recommendation for my transfer 
upon a certain contingency [Johnson's conviction] to the head of the Treas- 
ury Department, I hasten to request earnestly that no such recommendation 
be made. 

Enough of my life has been devoted to public duties. 

No consideration can induce me to assume those of the Treasury De- 
partment, or continue in the War Department longer than may be required 
for the appointment and confirmation of my successor. 

Yours truly, 

The Honorable Simon Cameron. Edwin M. Stanton. 

Nine Republicans voted with the Democrats against impeach- 
ment thus: Lyman Trumbull of Illinois, E. G. Ross of Kansas, J 
W. Grimes of Iowa, J. S. Fowler (born in Steubenville) and D. T. 
Patterson of Tennessee, Wm. Pitt Fessenden of Maine, James 
Dixon of Connecticut, P. G. Van Winkle of West Virginia, and 
J. B. Henderson of Missouri. 

Senator Patterson was the President's son-in-law, and could 
hardly escape giving a negative vote. The legislature of Missouri 
formally instructed Henderson to vote for impeachment, but he 
disobeyed ; Lyman Trumbull (standing counter to public opnion in 
his State) and William P. Fessenden were alleged to personally 
dislike Stanton, and one vote was secured through a famous woman 
artist and sculptor. 

Other votes were procured by influences not on record,* al- 

*"Money without limit was provided to carry on the President's side of 
the contest. Over $40,000 went to newspapers, and his numerous lawyers 


though James W. Grimes of Iowa refused to vote against impeach- 
ment until he had received from President Johnson himself a distinct 
promise that, in case of acquittal, there should be no further perse- 
cution of Stanton or his friends. On this point John Francis Co3de, 
editor of the National Intelligencer, Johnson's organ, makes the fol- 
lowing disclosures: 

I assured Senator Grimes, and so did others for the President, that in 
case of failure to impeach there should be no further persecution of Sec- 
retary Stanton, but he would accept the word of no one but Johnson himself. 
The President was really in desperate circumstances. There was a national 
majority sufificient to impeach, and he was willing to make any promise that 
would save him. I arranged a dinner party at my residence at which Presi- 
dent Johnson and Senator Grimes were the principal guests. At the end of 
the wine and walnuts the other guests withdrew and the promise necessary 
to secure the vote of Senator Grimes was given, and Johnson escaped by the 
single vote thus obtained! He kept his promise to Senator Grimes faith- 
fully, never thereafter uttering a word against or derogatory of Mr. Stanton. 

During the progress of the great trial renewed attempts were 
made to eject Stanton or deprive him of the use of the machinery of 
his office. The postmaster of Washington was instructed to deliver 
the mail of the War Department to General Lorenzo Thomas per- 
sonally, but promptly refused to do so. Then Grant was requested 
to issue an order, as general-in-chief, to the heads of Departments 
to turn over to him all letters, records, papers, and documents in 
and coming into their possession, but he, too, refused to obey. Fin- 
ally, to prevent honoring Stanton's requisitions, Johnson attempted 
to have Edmund Cooper, his friend and former private secretary, 
made assistant-secretary of the treasury, although there was no 
vacancy. The act of March 2, 1867, gave one assistant secretary of 
the treasury authority to sign warrants for the payment of money, 
and Cooper agreed, if appointed, to honor the requisitions and pay 
the War Department bills of Thomas but not those of Stanton. 

Thomas regularly went through the motions of meeting with 
the cabinet as "secretary of war." He did not, however, dare to put 
forth an order, sign a paper, draw salary, or issue a requisition. All 
of these matters were attended to by Stanton, whose power and au- 

were richly compensated. The funds came largely from the New York, 
New Orleans, Baltimore, and Philadelphia custom houses," says John Fran- 
cis Coyle, editor of Johnson's organ, the National Intelligencer, 


thority were fully recognized by Grant, Congress, and all the civil 
and military officers except the President.* 

Stanton was overwhelmed by the result of the impeachment 
trial. He felt that the sacrifices he had made, if not in vain, were 
certainly not bearing proper fruit, and that failure to convict John- 
son was practically conviction of himself. 

Therefore, at 3 o'clock of May 26, 1868, the day on which 
Chief Justice Chase entered up the verdict of "Not Guilty," weak 
from long physical suffering and exhausted by over six years of 
more arduous and responsible labors than were ever accomplished 
by any other official on this continent, he sent his son Edwin to in- 
struct General Townsend to take charge and possession of every- 
thing in the War Office and hold it subject to appropriate action of 
the Senate. He also gave to Townsend the following letter to be 
handed afterwards to President Johnson "relinquishing" his office : 


The resolution of the Senate of the United States of February 21 
last, declaring that the President has no power to remove the secretary of 
war and designate any other person to perform the duties of that position 
ad interim, having this day failed to be supported by two-thirds of the sena- 
tors present and voting on the articles of impeachment presented against 
you by the House of Representatives, I have relinquished charge of the War 
Department, and have left the same and the books, archives, papers, and 
property heretofore in my custody as secretary of war in care of Brevet- 
Major-General Townsend, the senior adjutant-general, subject to your di- 

Next morning General Thomas attempted to secure possession 
of the War Office keys but Townsend, on Stanton's advice, refused 
to give them up. 

On the 29th General John M. Schofield, who, as the Senate de- 
clare<i, had been illegally appointed on April 23, was confirmed as 
secretary of war because Stanton had "relinquished'' the office, and 
to him Townsend delivered the keys. On June 1 the Senate passed 
the following resolution, offered by George F. Edmunds, which was 
concurred in by the House on the 19th by a vote of 102 to 25 :t 

*Says General E. D. Townsend, who was acting adjutant-general during 
this trying period: "For some time President Johnson utterly ignored Mr. 
Stanton and would have nothing to do with General Grant. I stood on a 
sort of neutral ground in this triangle, receiving and executing the orders 
of all three without immediate reference to any." 

fThe following senators voted nay on the resolution of thanks: C. R. 
Buckalew^ Pennsylvania; J. R. Doolittle, Wisconsin; J. S. Fowler, Tennes- 


Resolved BY THE Senate (The House of Representatives concurring), 
That the thanks of Congress are due, and are hereby tendered, to the 
Honorable Edwin M. Stanton, for the great ability, purity, and fidelity to 
the cause of the country with which he has discharged the duties of secre- 
tary of war, as well amid the open dangers of a great Rebellion as at a late 
period when assailed by the opposition inspired by hostility to the measures 
of justice and pacification provided by Congress for the restoration of -a real 
and permanent peace. 

At the moment of relinquishing his office, Stanton's health and 
finances were in a more feeble condition than ever. For some time 
he was hardly able to leave his room. While thus prostrated he 
sent his son to the great banking house of Riggs and Company, in 
Washington, to borrow five hundred dollars on his promissory note, 
and the loan was refused ! He was much distressed and humiliated 
b}^ this refusal, his first banking in Washington having been done 
through, and for years his deposits and those of Mrs. Stanton hav- 
ing been with, Riggs and Company. 

Dr. John B. Blake of the National Metropolitan Bank, being ad- 
vised of the incident, offered to discount Stanton's note for five hun- 
dred dollars or any other sum, which offer was gratefully accepted. 

see; J. B. Henderson, Missouri; T. A. Hendricks, Indiana; Reverdy John- 
son, Maryland; T. C. McCreary, Kentucky; D. S. Norton, Minnesota; D. T. 
Patterson, Tennessee; E. G. Ross, Kansas; George Vickers, Maryland. 


The furniture of Stanton's office was of the simplest kind. The 
only luxury was an old haircloth lounge, from which the covering 
was half worn. On this, during great battles or important military 
manoeuvres, when he dared not be away from the telegraph instru- 
ment day or night, he secured a little rest. Here, too, during many 
an anxious night, Lincoln stretched himself while reading des- 
patches and consulting with the Secretary. 

The chairman and members of the Committee on the Conduct 
of the War visited Stanton every morning and other leading men of 
both Houses were in almost daily consultation concerning needed 
or pending legislation. In fact, during the war, except when ap- 
pointments or favors were sought, representatives and others con- 
sulted more with Stanton than with the remainder of the administra- 
tion combined. 

Carpenter, the artist who spent six months at his profession in 
the White House, says that when Lincoln was found alone signing 
papers without reading them, he observed : "You see I do not read 
these documents. Stanton has signed them, so I know they are all 

W. R. Allison, a veteran editor of Steubenville, Ohio, recalls 
that at one time Government ambulance wagons stored in Washing- 
ton for service at the close of battles to remove the dead and bring 
away the wounded, got into private use. Stanton, observing one on 
the street, inquired how it came there. On being told that it was by 
Lincoln's permission, he instantly commanded a police captain : 
"These wagons may be telegraphed for at any moment. Warn 
every person in charge of one to return it within an hour, and if he 
refuses or fails, arrest him." Mr. Allison, who was a part of the ad- 
ministration at the time, says : "Stanton frequently issued similar 
orders, but there was never a protest or complaint from the White 
House; Lincoln knew Stanton was right," 


General O. O. Howard states : 

My relations with Secretary Stanton were very cordial and they re- 
mained so during all my perplexing work for freedmen and refugees. Only 
once do I remember anything like a difficulty and that concerned my annual 
report. It was in print. He seized it and said to me in his roughest man- 
ner: "Sir, I told you not to print your report before I had read it." I 
said stiffly, in his own tone: "Sir, I did not understand you. You di- 
rected me not to publish my report; and I have not. I have simply put it in 
print with my own press for your convenience." 

He was standing. He quickly sat down, took off his official spectacles, 
and in his most affable manner said: "Why, General Howard, I thought you 
understood me better. Take a seat, sir, while I review your report." He 
then read it carefully but rapidly. On completing it he gave it back with 
warm thanks for its explicit and satisfactory character. 

He was accustomed to tell me that certain men could not be trusted. 
When one of my agents suddenly betrayed me, he laughed and said: "How 
could you have been deceived in that man? I knew him by the company he 
was keeping." He watched and studied everybody. 

In 1864 Representative Philitus Sawyer of Wisconsin was a 
delegate to the Republican national convention at Baltimore. The 
day before the convention met he applied to Stanton for the dis- 
charge of young Follett of Green Bay. "No," said Stanton, "I can't 
do it." Mr. Sawyer explained that the case was one of extreme 
merit. "I know it," replied Stanton, "but there are thousands of 
such cases. I am moving heaven and earth in order to give Grant 
the men he wants. Grant's case is one of extreme merit, too." 

Mr. Sawyer went thence to Lincoln, who wrote on Follett's ap- 
plication: "Let the within discharge be made. A. Lincoln." Re- 
turning to the War Department, Mr. Sawyer found Stanton writing 
at a stand-up desk. "I placed the application on the desk before 
the Secretary," says Mr. Sawyer. "He did not look up, but wrote 
across the document: 'Let the within discharge be made in accord- 
ance with the President's order. E. M. S.' He knew the discharge 
was setting a bad precedent, and would not himself make it; but 
Lincoln, less rigorous, generally did as his heart dictated, right or 
wrong. Mr. Stanton never did anything on his own motion that he 
thought was not right." 

Colonel J. B. Montgomery of Portland, Oregon, says that a 
friend, an officer, desired a certain thing done. Stanton refused, 
and the officer went to Lincoln. The President, after listening, said 
he thought the request was reasonable and should be granted. 
"Tell Mr, Stanton I say so," said Lincoln. The officer explained 

Peter G. Van W inkle. U. S. S. 

James W. Grimes, U. S. S. 

Hugh McCulloch, 
Secretary of the Treasury. 

James Dixon, U. S. S. 


that Stanton would pay no attention to him. "I will give you a 
card," said Lincoln, handing him a slip containing a request to Stan- 
ton to comply with Colonel M.'s wishes. "I can't do it," said Stan- 
ton, handing back the President's note. The officer retired and re- 
ported to the President, who asked appealingly : "Well, now, my 
friend, what can I do? Have I not requested and, like yourself, 
been refused?" "There the matter rested forever," says Colonel 
Montgomery, adding that it was this episode which led Lincoln to 
explain to friends who witnessed the incident: "You see I do not 
have much influence with this administration." 

A young soldier whose mother was one of Thaddeus Stevens' 
constituents had been sentenced to be shot for sleeping at his post 
on the picket line. The mother, in the morning of the day fixed 
for the execution, applied to Stevens for help to save her son, who at 
once took the case to Lincoln. 

"I am sorry, but I can't help you," said Lincoln. "Mr. Stanton 
says I am destroying discipline in the army and I have promised 
him I will grant no more reprieves without first consulting him." 

"There is no time to consult anybody," rejoined Stevens, look- 
ing at the clock. "There is not an hour to spare." 

"It is too bad, but I must keep my promise to sign no more re- 
prieves," said Lincoln, "without first referring them to Mr. Stanton." 

Picking up a telegraph blank, Stevens wrote a reprieve and, 
handing it to Lincoln, inquired if the form was correct. Lincoln 
said that it was, whereupon Stevens signed "A. Lincoln" to it and 
despatched a messenger on the run to the telegraph office to have it 
sent to the officer in command where the boy was to be shot. In a 
few minutes Stanton steamed into the Executive Chamber ex- 

"I see, Mr. President, you have signed another reprieve con- 
trary to your agreement not to do so without first consulting the 
War Department." 

"No," responded Lincoln, "I have signed no reprieve. I have 
kept my word." 

"But I just now saw one going over the wires" — for Stanton 
ordered all messages to be repeated and recorded in the War De- 
partment, so he could know instantly everything that was going on 
in the armies — "and your name is signed to it." 

"But I did not write it," persisted Lincoln. 

"Did not write it! Who did write it?" 

"Your friend, Thad Stevens," 


Stanton, who had been neatly circumvented, took his hat and 
left without another word ; but the trick was never repeated. 

Two Pennsylvania generals were without commands. One 
had been suspended for too much conviviality and the other for in- 
competence at Chickamauga. Both possessed strong political influ- 
ence and in due time petitions asking for their restoration were 
numerously signed. "I presented the petitions," says General J. 
K. Moorhead, then representing the Pittsburg District in Congress, 
"and informed the Secretary that the convivial general authorized 
me to say that he would resign if Mr. Stanton would recommend 
him for a foreign mission. The Secretary was on fire in a second. 
T know better than the citizens of Pittsburg,' he exclaimed, 'who 
are fit to command our troops. The army already is cursed with 
too many drunken and incompetent officers. I will not put any 
more there ; I will not recommend General for a for- 
eign mission, and if he doesn't resign within thirty days, I will drop 
his name from the rolls.' Both resigned. Secretary Stanton was 
right, of course, but these two officers and all their friends became 
his life-long enemies ; and in some such way, if the truth could be 
given out, nearly all of the Secretary's bitter enemies were created," 
concluded General Moorhead. 

Benjamin Tappan, jr., a son of Stanton's sister Oella, applied 
for a transfer from a staff position in the volunteer service to some 
place in the regular army, and was greatly surprised and chagrined 
when his application was rejected with a single wave of his uncle's 
hand. Family ties had no influence in official life with Stanton, but 
Lincoln himself promptly made the transfer in such a way that the 
Secretary could not interfere. 

J. J. S. Hassler, after serving as drill-master for several months, 
decided that he wanted to go into the regular army. A number of 
senators, representatives, and prominent men united in urging his 
transfer. Lincoln threw up his hands in mock agony, saying: 
"Gentlemen, I can do nothing. That rests entirely with Mr. Stan- 
ton; but," he said, letting his hands fall, "I can go over and join 
in a request to Mr. Stanton to have Captain Hassler appointed in 
the regular army." 

They went, but Stanton remained obdurate. While returning, 
the party met Adjutant-General Townsend, to whom they explained 
their errand. "I think I can fix it for you," he said. "Let it be un- 
derstood by the President that Mr. Hassler will step across the 


Street and enlist as a private in the regular army, at the same time 
resigning his commission as an officer of volunteers. He can then 
at once be promoted." 

The President smiled and assented to the subterfuge. The de- 
vice came shortly to Stanton, who gave the officer who brought it to 
him one of those through-and-through looks with which it was his 
habit to chastise in silence those who had done something they knew 
was not right; but he signed the promotion. 

General E, D. Townsend, referring to Hassler's case, explains 
why Stanton made the iron-clad rule against transfers and stub- 
bornly adhered to it: "So many volunteer officers desired to get per- 
manent positions in the regular army that, if they had been ap- 
pointed, the volunteer regiments would have been without com- 
manders. Mr. Stanton was right, therefore, in making this stern 
rule against such appointments ; but I know of no other man who 
could have withstood the pressure brought to compel him to 
break it." 

Davison Filson of Steubenville relates this pleasant incident : 

It was Mr. Stanton's habit in passing up and down the Ohio River be- 
tween his office in Pittsburg and his home in Steubenville, to ride in the 
pilot-house where he could admire the splendid scenery. He thus became 
acquainted with the little daughter of the pilot on the Diurnal, and very 
fond of her. Five or six years later he was secretary of war and the pilot 
a private in the Army of the Cumberland. Illness and poverty brought dis- 
tress to the pilot's family. The mother and children longed for a visit from 
the soldier, but he could secure no furlough. One day the little daughter 
inquired whether the man who caressed her on the steamer was the great 
Secretary of War who could grant furloughs. On being told that he was, 
she wrote a letter reminding him of their former acquaintance, reciting her 
mother's distress and begging for a furlough for her father. Her letter was 
mailed as a matter of gratification and forgotten by the family. A short 

time afterwards Private R was summoned to headquarters by 

the general and shown a letter from Secretary Stanton ordering a furlough. 
Thus, the simple language and trust of a little child secured what no amount 
of political or official pressure could have accomplished — and that was 

Says William B. Bodine, for some time president of Kenyon 
College : 

After one of Secretary Stanton's earliest preceptors, Dr. William Spar- 
row, left Kenyon, he joined the Virginia Theological Seminary at Alexan- 
dria. After the war closed, he went to Washington to enlist the Secre- 
tary's aid in regaining possession of the Seminary buildings. The Secretary 


possessed the power to accomplish almost anything, and he had a heart to 
do all he possibly could for his beloved preceptor; but he was nevertheless 
scrupulously careful to take no steps beyond what the law permitted. This 
rugged adherence to right greatly impressed Dr. Sparrow who respected 
Mr. Stanton more profoundly than any other public man he ever knew. 

"While now pretty much everybody of any importance in the 
Government service, even a chief clerk, is provided with horses, 
carriage, and driver at public expense," says General Robert F. 
Hunter of Washington, "Secretary Stanton paid for the equipage 
used by him in Department business out of his own pocket." 

"Yes," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, "I drew Mr. Stanton's pay 
every month, something over six hundred dollars, and at once gave 
almost half of it to Irwin, his coachman, who received ten dollars a 
day for the constant use of two horses and a carriage. Irwin him- 
self was in waiting either at the Department or the Secretary's 
residence night and day and Sundays the same ; and while it seems 
pretty steep for a great war minister to pay half of his salary for a 
coachman, it was not too much for the services rendered. 

"The Government should have paid this heavy bill," continued 
Major Johnson, "but Mr. Stanton would not ask it ; he never asked 
any favors. I remember that Assistant-Secretary Watson ordered 
a caterer to bring lunches to the Secretary at times when he could 
not go home to luncheon, dinner, or for that matter, to sleep. The 
auditor held up the account for these meals, as certified by Chief 
Clerk John Potts, and Mr. Watson paid the bill. After that Mr. 
Stanton had a messenger bring luncheons from his house — if he 
had any ; but very, very often he went without them. 

"I always had Mr. Stanton indorse his pay check and then at- 
tended to his bills. I reported to Mrs. Stanton ; the Secretary never 
would look at my account. He had no time for that. He had big- 
ger things on hand. Mrs. Stanton had a little money," concluded 
Major Johnson, "and Mr. Stanton owned his house ; otherwise the 
family could not have lived on the salary of a cabinet officer, for 
everything was very expensive in those days. Oh, great and intelli- 
gent as this people is, it never will half appreciate either the sac- 
rifices or the services of that wonderful man Stanton !" 

"While in the Military Telegraph service I watched Mr. Stan- 
ton with a mixture of awe and wonder," says L. A. Somers of Cleve- 
land. "Day after day and often far into the night I was where I 
could feel the power of his telling blows delivered for the Union re- 



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gardless of persons and consequences. I can say further that many 
of the important war telegrams ascribed to President Lincoln, and 
in fact appearing in the records as having been written and signed 
by him, were inspired and their spirit and substance furnished or 
they were entirely written by Mr. Stanton." 

"I myself took the famous Sunday-Observance order, in Mr. 
Stanton's handwriting, to Lincoln, who approved it without sug- 
gesting a change, and it was issued as coming from him," says Gen- 
eral T. M. Vincent, assistant adjutant-general. "It gained great 
credit for the supposed author, and is still in force. There are many 
other and more weighty instances of the same character* of which 
the world will never know. Secretary Stanton dominated every- 
thing military, and the final victory was largely his victory." 

President Thomas Sweany of the Wheeling Bridge Company 

After Mr. Stanton had recovered from the accident to his leg which 
resulted from falling into a steamer hatch while taking testimony in the 
Wheeling Bridge Case, we met in the office of Russell and Fitzhugh in 
Wheeling to continue the task. I inquired about his health, in reply to 
which he related the circumstances and character of the accident. I re- 
torted: "It is a pity you did not break your neck instead of your leg." He 
chuckled, but apparently my remark went in one ear and out the other. 
Years afterward, however, I learned the contrary as well as the power of 
his extraordinary memory. During the war the rendezvous of the army 
was on the island across from Wheeling. We charged for transporting the 
wagons but not for soldiers on foot. Going to Washington to secure a 
settlement, I found a large assembly in the reception room of the War De- 
partment. Mr. Stanton caught sight of me at once and called out, "What 
will you havCj Mr. Sweany?" 

"I have a toll claim against the Government," I replied. 

He grasped the claim, quickly swept over it through his big spectacles, 
endorsed on the back of it "allowed," and, passing it to his secretary, re- 
marked with a quizzical expression in his magnificent black eyes: "I sup- 
pose you do not now wish that my neck had been broken in that hatch 
while at Pittsburg." From this and my intimate knowledge of the man for 
forty years, I can declare that he never forgot anything that he ever knew, 
saw, or heard. 

In November, 1862, Charles A. Dana received a telegram from 
Assistant-Secretary P. H. Watson, asking him to come immediately 

♦Major A. E. H. Johnson of Washington retains the facsimile stamp 
with which Stanton attached Lincoln's signature to deliverances which were 
technically supposed to come from the President. 


to Washington. He went and was received by Mr. Stanton, who 
offered to him the position of assistant secretary of war. Dana 
said he would accept. "All right," said Stanton, "consider it set- 

On leaving the War Office Dana met a New York newspaper 
friend (Miles O'Reiley) and told him of the appointment, which of 
course was announced in all the papers the following morning. 
Stanton was greatly offended and at once withdrew the appoint- 
ment.* He permitted information concerning the doings of the War 
Office to be given out by no one but himself; "yet I thought I was 
doing no harm in telling of my appointment," says Mr. Dana. 

John C. Hesse, chief clerk in the bureau of records and pen- 
sions, who entered the War Department in 1861, says he was thrice 
dismissed in writing by Stanton, once under circumstances thus 
related in his own words : 

Suddenly the Old Man [Stanton] asked for a tabular form of the exact 
strength of the Army of the Potomac. As usual, he wanted it at once. 
Taking two expert clerks, I divided the work off into three parts, each tak- 
ing a share and pursuing the work night and day. Just at daylight the third 
morning the task was complete. I put the parts together and delivered 
them in the Secretary's office. Mr. Stanton was there — he had not been 
home at all during the night. Handing the papers to him I stated their 
contents and departed. 

Two days later all the figures of this secret matter appeared in a half- 
secesh paper in Baltimore. The Old Man was furious. "Who prepared 
those papers?" he demanded of the chief clerk. On receiving an answer 
he grabbed an envelope and dashed across it, "Let Hesse, Wilson, and 
Smith be instantly dismissed." 

General Townsend brought in the dismissal. I was young and fiery 
and exclaimed: "The Secretary can dismiss me; that's all right. But who- 
ever accuses me of disloyalty is a liar and you please tell him so. Before 
General Twiggs surrendered his command to the rebels in Texas in Feb- 
ruary, 1861, I refused $500 io gold and good pay to drill secesh soldiers, and 
I was a common soldier getting only $13 a month. Then, when Twiggs 
surrendered, I wrapped our flag about my body and, crawling, walking, and 
skulking for days and weeks, brought it safely here to Washington. I have 
faced the enemy on the field of battle, and am ready to do it again; but no 
man, not even the Secretary, can accuse me of disloyalty." 

General Townsend, when I had finished, told me to continue my work 
and then went to see the Old Man. That was the last I ever heard of that 
dismissal. But Mr. Stanton was all right. The North was honey-combed 

♦Subsequently Stanton tendered another position to Mr. Dana and 
eventually made him assistant secretary of war, in which office he performed 
services beyond price. 


with disloyalty. No man could be trusted without being tested and no 
suspected man could be kept in the Department an instant. His position 
was the most difficult in history, and great as he was, his hands were full 
with it. I loved the Old Man and I love him yet; for night and day he was 
tearing away at Rebellion and finally cleaned it out, and here we are! 

Although his rules regarding official telegrams, letters, orders, and 
documents were of the most rigid and comprehensive character, and were 
enforced with a rod of iron, upon officers of every grade, he himself did not 
always obey them. Sometimes, under the pressure of great emergencies, 
he seized an envelope or other scrap from the waste-basket and, with his 
big smearing pen, dashed of? and handed out an order which changed the 
command of an army or took a city, and afterwards flailed his clerks because 
they had on file neither the original nor a copy of his paper. That is one 
reason why the originals of certain important military and historical docu- 
ments are not and never have been on file in the Department. 

An illustration of the truth of Mr. Hesse's statement is found 
in the following, written on a small scrap of paper, and not now on 
file in the Department: 

May 24, 1862. 
General Saxton: 

You will please proceed with the troops from Washington to Harper's 
Ferry and operate with them according to your discretion as circumstances 
may require, assuming command of them. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 

Secretary of War. 

The spring of 1864 found Stanton nearly broken down. His 
old friend John Harper of the Bank of Pittsburg suggested that a 
case of wine, unfermented and made from native Catawba grapes by- 
Mr. Goering of Pittsburg, might be found strengthening, and on re- 
turning home, would send it. He did so, receiving this acknowl- 
edgment, dated April 16, 1864: 

My Dear Friend: 

I beg you to accept my grateful thanks for the wine which arrived 
safely; and still more for the kind words accompanying it. 

I find the wine not only very agreeable to the taste, but also to have the 
tonic qualities you ascribe to it. 

Nothing material of a public nature is going on at present. The impas- 
sable roads delay forward movements, but everything is moving favorably 
in the way of preparation. 

If Chase gets over his panic I hope we will soon give him "military 
success" to financier on. If all financiers had the pluck of the Bank of 
Pittsburg,* Wall Street would not rampage so often. 

. *Extract from the minutes of the Bank of Pittsburg: "The cashier 
[John Harper] having stated that certain banks in Philadelphia and else- 


"This wine," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, "was kept in the 
washstand closet in his room in the Department for some time, 
but he did not use it there. It was subsequently sent to his home. 
He was not a user of wine — it was so quick to go to his great 

When pressed to appoint men whose qualities he did not know, 
Stanton made close inquiries concerning them for the purpose of 
watching their weaknesses. For instance: 

"Colonel Townsend [to the Adjutant-General], what do you 
think of Major M for the position of ?" 

"He talks too much ; would not be a proper appointee." 

In an hour General Townsend was surprised by receiving an 
order to make the appointment he had just condemned. During 
the following day he was again surprised by an order to discharge 

or suspend Major M "instantly," accompanied by no written 

reason therefor. The explanation of the performance is this : There 

was high pressure to secure Major M ■ 's appointment. Stanton, 

having a hint from General Townsend as to the fitness of the man, 
made the appointment as requested, but took steps to watch the ap- 
pointee ; and, having found him, as Townsend said, too talkative, 
suspended him as by lightning-stroke without placing anything de- 
rogatory on record against him. Thus he watched and tested and 
dealt with everybody. 

"The late Senator J. R. Doolittle of Wisconsin was a power in 
Congress. He demanded a certain favor from Stanton," says Gen- 
eral T. M. Vincent. " 'I can't do it,' said the Secretary. 'You can't 
do it?' 'No.' 'You shall do it,' said Doolittle. 'I never will,' an- 
swered the Secretary. 'Then I'll blow up the Department.' 'Blow 
it up,' replied the Secretary, not even looking up from his writing. 
Doolittle did not secure what he demanded and the Department was 
not 'blown up.' " 

General Vincent also recalls this incident: 

One morning about 10 o'clock Mr. Stanton said to me with more than 
usual abruptness: "Cummins has arrived from Philadelphia with his regi- 
ment [19th Pennsylvania Cavalry] and is at the B. and O. depot. Pay off 
him and his men at once and send them to Arkansas." 

where had suspended specie payment, offered the following resolution, 
which was unanimously adopted: 'Whereas, we have heard that the other 
banks of Pittsburg have suspended specie payment; therefore be it Re- 
solved, That this bank will cay specie on all its liabilities as heretofore.' " 


I got money and a paymaster from the paymaster-general, on the Sec- 
retary's order, ordered transportation and before night the entire com- 
mand had been paid and was en route, horses and all, for the West. Orig- 
inally Cummins had been considered for the West, but, wishing to be sta- 
tioned in the East where there was less activity, he had come on without 
the Secretary's order, which accounts for the summary manner in which 
Mr. Stanton fired him half across the continent. 

That movement illustrates almost daily occurrences under Stanton, who 
managed his Department with less red tape than ever had been known in 
Government operations. 

When new recruits arrived during the first half of 1862, Stanton 
saddled them upon Dix and other generals and sent their equiva- 
lents in drilled, veteran soldiers to McClellan. When McClellan 
asked for supplies, arms, and ammunition, Stanton ordered his 
wants to take precedence of all other demands and requisitions. 
When McClellan asked to have the navy cooperate with him, Stan- 
ton requested Lincoln to go in person to learn precisely what he 
wanted and promise it to him. When McClellan seemed likely to 
move toward the enemy, General Wool was ordered to care for 
his sick and wounded. When McClellan called for more men, 
other commands were looted in order to satisfy him. Lincoln and 
the entire administration, including the army and navy, were kept 
running after and waiting upon the "Little Napoleon." Why? 
Stanton knew the character of McClellan's advisers and of their po- 
litical schemes. Besides, he was determined to furnish all the 
means required to whatever general was charged with capturing, 
or was pretending to try to capture Richmond and Jefferson Davis. 

When Stanton became secretary, the fortifications about Wash- 
ington were sparse and flimsy — little better than straw. He ex- 
tended and strengthened them with great energy, so that by Janu- 
ary, 1863, they were reputed to be the most extensive field works 
known — the Torres Vedras, which checked Napoleon in Spain, be- 
ing the only possible exception. They comprised over fifty forts, 
innumerable rifle-pits and bomb-proofs, several magazines, and 
vast quantities of stores and transportation accoutrements. The 
garrisons, however, were always inadequate, owing to the urgent 
and incessant calls by McClellan, Meade, Grant, and other com- 
manders for men in the field, which kept every resource exhausted. 
However, transportation facilities were amply provided so that in 
case of sudden danger he could quickly throw in a large army, 
which would find, on arrival, adequate fortifications for its shelter. 


A delegation of "conservative" congressmen, headed by Charles 
A. Eldredge of Wisconsin, called on Lincoln in December, 1862, 
to discuss the "limits of the constitution." As they proposed to 
talk about w^ar measures, Lincoln sent for Stanton, who dismissed 
the party in half a minute, thus : "The constitution can have no 
limits that vv^ill prevent saving the country. Constitutions cannot 
make countries ; countries make constitutions. Save the Republic 
and you save everything." 

The enlistment and equipment of eighty-five thousand one-hun- 
dred-day men in twenty days in the spring of 1864, was conceived 
by Stanton. He outlined the plan to Governor Brough of Ohio, and 
telegrams brought the governors of Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illi- 
nois, and Ohio to Washington, where the details for carrying it into 
efifect were perfected in a few hours. The feat was regarded as a 
marvel and greatly strengthened the war sentiment of the country; 
but Stanton is never given credit for initiating it. 

Soon after becoming secretary, he invited John W. Garrett of 
Baltimore, president and principal owner of the Baltimore and Ohio 
Railroad, to visit him. "Baltimore is largely a secession city," he 
said, "but it is being ruined and your railroad is being ruined by the 
Rebellion with which it sympathizes. Now, I will rebuild the parts 
of your road which may be destroyed by rebels and protect and use 
the line if you will throw the weight of all your influence for the 
L^nion." Garrett agreed and thereby not only saved himself and 
his city from many serious losses, but materially strengthened the 
Union cause, being joined by many of the leading business men of 
the city, who "discovered that secession was the hot end of the 
poker." Thereafter Garrett personally saw or communicated with 
Stanton daily till the end of the war, using his railroad and his ener- 
gies and information in aid of suppressing the Rebellion. As he 
knew almost everybody in the South, possessed enormous resources, 
and was fully trusted by Stanton, his services were of great value. 

The State sovereignty notions of State governors and courts 
which developed so many hitches, great and small, called forth this 
very interesting letter, dated September 14, 1864, from Stanton to 
J. Gregory Smith, governor of Vermont : 


In reply to your note of this date in respect to furnishing arms and 
accoutrements for the militia of your State, I have the honor to inform 
you that in the event of the Vermont legislature passing a law for the or- 
ganization of the militia of that State this Department will, on your requi- 

An Autograph Letter. 


sition, furnisli immediately 15,000 stands of arms, with accoutrements com- 
plete, the arms to be of the finest quality, Springfield rifles and muskets. The 
necessary supplies of ordnance stores will also be furnished. 

If it will not be deemed improper, I beg leave to say that, in my view, 
it is the duty of every State to organize and arm its militia promptly and by 
suitable drill and instruction prepare them for their duty as soldiers, to pro- 
tect their homes and maintain the government of their choice. 

Until the present Rebellion I was of those to hope there would be war 
no more and that mankind had become wise enough under our Government 
to live at peace. But when I saw the slave-holders of the South and corrupt 
politicians of the North plotting together to overthrow the Government of 
the United States and establish for themselves perpetual dominion, North 
and South, my mistake was revealed, and the full force of the maxim that 
"eternal vigilance is the price of liberty" came home to me. 

I am now in favor of arming every freedman. But arms without or- 
ganization are of little account. I am therefore in favor of organizing 
freedmen as soldiers, and when this is done rebels and traitors will not be 
apt to repeat their crimes. The militia of every State should be organized, 
trained, and instructed in the use of arms if they wish to live in peace. 

Grant received his commission as lieutenant-general from Lin- 
coln at the White House in March, 1864. At the conclusion of this 
ceremony Stanton said to him : "I would like to see you at the War 
Department." He appeared quickly. "I telegraphed for you to 
hurry to Washington," said Stanton, "because your presence with 
the Army of the Potomac is needed. Lee's menacing the capital is 
a constant source of anxiety. His army is the greatest power of 
the South. The Army of the Potomac has fought many fierce bat- 
tles but really gained nothing. So long as Lee has an army we can 
do little more than prevent the capture of Washington, which is 
now, as it has been from the first, the center of the war. Lee must 
be fought aggressively and constantly. His army must be crushed 
and captured to give us peace. I wanted you to see for yourself the 
necessity of having your headquarters with the Army of the Poto- 
mac, and I will use all the power of the nation to give you every- 
thing you want and all the men you can fight." 

"I will see General Meade in the morning; go West and put the 
armies under commanders and return," was all Grant said in reply. 

"General Grant's manner was very simple," says Major A. E. 
H. Johnson, who took notes of the interview. "He did not wish to 
come to the Potomac ; had not intended to do so and had been ad- 
vised by Sherman to keep away, but his obedience was prompt and 
complete. That oral request was all the order he ever received and 
it was the beginning of the end of the war." 


Stanton had taken Grant's measure and a fortnight later issued 
the order which made him general-in-chief, absolute master, under 
the President, of ajl the armies of the Union. 

When he desired to inaugurate a new feature of importance 
Stanton secretly sent out one or more trusted agents to investigate 
and report. T. A. Scott reported upon the conditions in Tennes- 
see before Andrew Johnson was appointed military governor of that 
State, and Anson Stager, Herman Haupt, C. A. Dana, General 
Meigs, P. H. Watson, and several others in whom he had confi- 
dence, were frequently sent to the front on missions not stated nor 
ever reported upon in writing. In this way he was able to measure 
in advance the probable results of his plans ; and not one of import- 
ance miscarried. 

"There are fundamental defects in the mental processes of 
many of our generals," Stanton said to the Committee on the Con- 
duct of the War, when called upon for reasons for refusing to make 
certain promotions. "They are permeated with the ancient notions 
of war, born of the day when women bore all the burdens and per- 
formed all the labor and the men did nothing but fight. They seem 
unable to realize that this is a Republic, in which the people are 
above generals, instead of generals above the people. Some re- 
cover from their perverted notions, but many never do, and I cannot 
consent to the promotion of those who do not. Men who think the 
country worth nothing except to furnish army officers with just 
what they want, are unfit for military commands." 

"Secretary Stanton did not have complete confidence as com- 
manders in the West Pointers who had served in the engineer 
corps," says General Robert F. Hunter of Washington, "and with 
good reason. They relied too much on the pick and spade and too 
little on the sword and gun. They were always wanting to throw 
up intrenchments. They tended more to circumvallation than cir- 
cumvention. They wanted to wall themselves in and wait for the 
enemy. Naturally that exasperated an aggressive man like Stan- 
ton. They were strategists rather than tactitians. The former can 
get their forces advantageously to a given point while the latter can 
handle their armies successfully on the actual field of battle. The 
former may escape disastrous defeats, but it is the latter who win 
the decisive victories. Stanton was looking for victory, and he did 
not care whether the leaders who gave it to him came from West 
Point or the pine forests of the wild and woolly West." 


In August, 1864, J. S. Black visited Jacob Thompson, who had 
been a member of Buchanan's cabinet with Stanton and was now 
insurgent agent in Canada, intimating that he represented Stanton 
in negotiating for an armistice of three or six months. On return- 
ing from the interview Black wrote to Stanton suggesting that he 
advise the declaration of an armistice for the purpose of beginning 
"negotiations in earnest," unless Lincoln "had made up his mind to 
fight it out on the emancipation issue." Stanton wrote to Black 
denying his assumption of authority, refusing to give advice in 
favor of an armistice and closing thus : "The upshot of it is that 
you go in for an armistice, which is nothing more or less than South 
Carolina wanted when the Rebellion began. You and I opposed it 
then as fatal to our Government and our national existence ; I still 
oppose it on the same ground." 

Lincoln authorized recruiting among insurgent prisoners with- 
out consulting Stanton. The plan, when it came to the notice of 
Grant and the public, met with decided protests and Stanton was 
roundly denounced for inaugurating it. On September 22, 1864, 
Lincoln sent a telegram to Grant saying that sort of thing would go 
no further and concluding: "The Secretary of War is wholly free 
from any part in this blunder." The press, in ignorance of Lin- 
coln's telegram, continued to blame Stanton, which illustrates the 
circumstances surrounding nearly every act for which the Secretary 
was criticized. Somebody else was responsible, but he never dis- 
closed who that somebody was in order to exculpate himself. 

To his first call for tenders of water transports for the army, 
in February, 1862, he added this clause : "No speculative proposi- 
tion will be received, nor propositions from persons not now in pos- 
session or having control of the required means of transportation." 
This prevented mere speculators from securing contracts to be sold 
or sublet to others and eliminated scandals which for some time had 
been disturbing the public. 

During the opening months of the war soldiers were paid in 
coin, some of which was captured by the insurgent raiders, while 
much of the remainder, being expended by the men in the field, 
found its way into the Confederate coffers, to that extent weakening 
the Union and strengthening the Rebellion. Stanton, seeing that 
this was undermining the Government, prepared a brief which was 
approved by John Andrews, the noted banker and financier of Co- 
lumbus, Ohio, advising Secretary Chase to begin the issue of paper 


money oefore the gold in the Treasury had been exhausted, as other- 
wise notes, having no specific foundation of redemption, would de- 
preciate almost to the point of worthlessness. Subsequent expe- 
rience proved the correctness of his judgment. 

In January, 1865, he visited Savannah to investigate the negro 
and cotton problems. Besides making a personal survey of the new 
situation in which the war had placed the colored people, he wished 
to learn their hopes and wants from their own lips. Having given 
a public audience to them, he selected twenty representatives from 
the mass present and laboriously wrote down the testimony given 
by each, unabridged, putting numerous questions intended to bring 
out fuller expressions upon the more perplexing features of the im- 
portant subject. General Townsend offered to procure the services 
of a clerk, or to do the writing himself, but Stanton replied that if 
he made the record with his own hand he "would be sure that noth- 
ing had been lost or discolored" — a characteristic of every important 
step of his official life. 

In offering a great reward for the capture of the assassin of 
Lincoln and his conspirators in that crime, Stanton did not include 
a price for apprehending Jefferson Davis, although possessing an 
ampler knowledge of the ramifications of the conspiracy than any 
other man. Therefore President Johnson proclaimed a reward of 
one hundred thousand dollars for the apprehension of the fleeing 
head of the Confederacy. Under this stimulation Davis was cap- 
tured on May 10, 1865, at Laurens, Georgia, by soldiers from Wis- 
consin and Michigan, and confined at Fortress Monroe. When 
Stanton* learned that the prisoner had been placed in irons, he or- 

*For years Stanton was bitterly hated in the South because of the un- 
founded belief that he caused Jefferson Davis to be placed in irons. The 
order to manacle Davis is in the hand of Charles A. Dana, who was at 
Fortress Monroe when the noted prisoner arrived there, as follows: 

"Fortress Monroe, May 22, 1865. 

"Brevet-Major-General Miles is hereby authorized and directed to place 
manacles and fetters on the hands and feet of Jefferson Davis and Clement 
C. Clay, jr., whenever he may think it advisable in order to render their im- 
prisonment more secure. C. A. Dana, 

"By order of the Secretary of War. Assistant Secretary of War." 

The records connect Stanton with the affair in no way except by the 
order to unshackle the prisoner. However, Mr. Dana states that the Sec^ 
retary feared that Davis might commit suicide if given an opportunity, and 
declared that such an opportunity must not be permitted. 


dered an immediate delivery from that indignity and gave in- 
structions w^hich resulted in making the captive as comfortable 
as possible under the circumstances. Immediately afterwards, 
in the District of Columbia, Davis was indicted for treason 
and "inciting the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and 
murdering Union prisoners of war by starvation and other 
barbarous and cruel treatment." In October the President asked 
Chief Justice Chase when he would hold a term of court in Virginia 
for the trial of Davis. Chase replied that no court would be held 
while martial law prevailed in his circuit. In May, 1866, Davis 
was indicted for treason by a Virginia grand jury sitting at Nor- 
folk, and, although Stanton advised against it, the prisoner was 
turned over to the civil authorities and, in May, 1867, bailed out by 
Horace Greeley and others in the sum of one hundred thousand dol- 
lars. In November, 1868, President Johnson having joined Chief 
Justice Chase in opposing a trial, a nolle prosequi was entered and 
the prisoner discharged, Stanton wanted Davis, when first ar- 
rested, tried at once, in a fair and dignified manner. He was op- 
posed, however, by Chief Justice Chase and later by President 
Johnson, both of whom were manoeuvring for the presidency. Stan- 
ton never thought of the presidency or anything else but his coun- 
try while discharging his public duties. 

Colonel A. S. Worthington of Washington, who entered the 
army as a mere boy at Steubenville, Ohio, had his right leg shot ofif, 
and was in a hospital at Nashville perishing of gangrene. His 
mother arrived and engaged a physician who removed the boy to a 
private house. This enraged the hospital surgeon, who, regarding 
the removal as a reflection on himself, ordered the patient returned. 
"Send word to father," said the boy, and the physician telegraphed 
the facts as directed. Instantly D. B, Worthington, the father, 
telegraphed from Steubenville to Stanton, and within three hours 
the hospital surgeon received this from Stanton : "Let young Worth- 
ington remain where his mother has placed him," By a miracle the 
boy recovered. Later he went to Washington to thank Stanton for 
the intercession which saved his life, Stanton replied : "Yes, I love 
to lay a heavy hand on those fellows when they need it," 

"You are too arbitrary," exclaimed Governor Andrew Curtin 
of Pennsylvania, after he had failed to swerve the Secretary, "I am 
not arbitrary enough," was the rejoiner. "War is arbitrary and 


cannot be managed except by such arbitrary rules as will prevent 
interference by men like yourself." 

Whenever a man was proposed for an important command 
Stanton investigated not only his personal record, but that of his 
family. Thus, when Grant recommended a certain general to com- 
mand the Department of West Virginia, Stanton was able to tele- 
graph : ''General has a young wife in Baltimore and of course 

family connections" — meaning connections not in sympathy with 
the Government, a fact not known to Grant. The appointment was 
not made. 

Soon after General John C. Fremont was appointed to the 
Mountain Department at Wheeling, he wrote to Stanton asking to 
be relieved because Pope, who did not rank him, had been put over 
him, and to serve under Pope, he said, would "reduce his rank and 
consideration." Within eight minutes the relief order was written 
and contained a repetition of Fremont's own words as the reason 
for its issue, thus making the record show forever that personal 
"rank and consideration" and not the welfare of the nation was the 
controlling motive of one of his commanders. 

Several times those who felt that Stanton was managing the 
War Department with too little regard for individual interests and 
ambitions, inaugurated movements to secure his retirement. In 
December, 1862, a rumor that he was about to resign brought pro- 
tests from all the loyal governors. To Governor Morton he tele- 
graphed on December 23 : "I shall never desert my post. Of this 
you may be sure." Morton telegraphed the reply to the other gov- 

General J. M. Schofield's recent admirable work ("Forty-Six 
Years in the Army") handles Stanton very gingerly. The War 
Office archives disclose one reason for so doing: When Schofield 
seized the hospital boat Spalding for his own personal quarters, 
Stanton took the craft away by a curt order and reported the afifair 
to Grant as a reprehensible irregularity and a justification for not 
promoting Schofield as Grant had recommended. Some such rea- 
son might be found for every hostile expression which has been put 
upon record against Stanton. 

Captain J. B. Corey, head of the Corey Coal Company of Pitts- 
burg, throws this light on Stanton's removal of General B. F. Butler 
from the command of New Orleans : 


The firm of J. B. Corey and Company of Pittsburg arrived in New Or- 
leans with several large cargoes of coal which had been exchanged for sugar 
for the Pennsylvania and Ohio markets just as Louisiana seceded from the 
Union. The coal was at New Orleans, but the sugar was at St. Mary's 
plantation, on so-called neutral ground. 

The Confederate Government confiscated not only this coal but all coal 
belonging to Northern men and impressed Peterson, a strong Union man 
and a member of our firm, to take charge of it. He issued coal on Con- 
federate requisitions from other cargoes, finally getting ours ashore. 

At this moment Admiral Farragut and General Butler captured New 
Orleans, and the latter began at once to issue requisitions on Corey and 
Company's coal, which were filled, Peterson having disobeyed the order of 
the retreating Confederates to burn it. 

We explained the entire situation to General Butler and asked for pro- 
tection to get off our sugar, for sugar was scarce and dear and needed in 
the North. Butler refused, but two days later Colonel Butler, the general's 
brother, privately informed Corey and Company that he would secure a 
convoy for the sugar if given every third barrel — the entire cargo being 
worth $300,000. 

Corey and Company said they would consult the home ofifice at Pitts- 
burg. On second thought J. H. Peterson and myself proceeded rapidly to 
Washington to lay the matter before Mr. Stanton. 

We arrived at the War Department on October 4, 1862, just as Secre- 
tary Stanton's daily levee to the public opened. The room was crowded 
with black and white, high and low, rich and poor, soldiers and civilians. I 
had known something of Mr. Stanton in Pittsburg, and was aware that he 
was a very able man; but I was more than astonished at the manner in 
which he disposed of the various claims of that motley crowd. Many mat- 
ters were decided before the orators were half through telling what they 
wanted, and the one or two questions that he asked now and then invariably 
exposed the vital portion — frequently the fatal weakness — of the case. 

When my turn came he glared at me as if to look me through and 
through and discover whether my brain held any dishonorable motives or 
scheme in hiding. I began to relate General Butler's requirements when 
he exclaimed: "I have heard of something of that sort before; be seated; I 
wish to question you." 

I stepped aside for others and, later that day, Mr. Peterson and myself 
were driven with Secretary Stanton to his residence, where we explained 
our situation, reinforced by documentary evidence. 

That was not enough. He wanted to know all about General Butler's 
administration, saying both Lincoln and himself had received a large num- 
ber of complaints. I replied that we did not wish to refer to anything be- 
yond our own case, because we had everything tied up at New Orleans and 
were completely at the mercy of General Butler. 

He replied that we should have protection; and then Mr. Peterson, who 
had been held in New Orleans over a year, answered fully and truthfully. 
Mr. Stanton asked particularly concerning General Butler's order prohibit- 


ing the sale of liquors in New Orleans, and its suspension after Colonel 
Butler, his brother, had bought up all the whiskey in the city and brought 
a fresh cargo to the wharf, all of which sold at an enormous profit. 

At the conclusion of our story. Secretary Stanton requested us to come 
to the office next day. We obeyed and received an order on General Butler 
for our sugar. As we were about to leave, I again said to Mr. Stanton that, 
in view of the paper we had obtained, the information we had given would 
work the ruin of our company if the facts should come to General Butler's 
knowledge, to which he quickly replied: 

"Have no fear. Just as soon as a competent successor can be found I 
shall remove General Butler; and in the meantime apply to me for any pro- 
tection needed and it will be forthcoming." 

Of course we secured our sugar on Mr. Stanton's order and General 
Butler was removed on the direct information furnished by our firm — a 
fact not found in the histories. 

When, subsequently, Lincoln essayed to restore Butler to the 
New Orleans command, the opposition was so sharp that he as- 
signed him to Fortress Monroe, from which position Stanton ulti- 
mately removed him on the request of Grant, who declared in writ- 
ing that his "administration is objectionable." In 1865 Stanton re- 
fused to appoint George F. Shepley military governor of Virginia 
because he "had been connected with Butler's administration in 
New Orleans." However, there never was the slightest break in 
the old friendship between Stanton and Butler. The suspensions or 
removals mentioned, notwithstanding Butler's great services to the 
country and the warm personal regard subsisting between the two, 
were simply unavoidable. 

Major A. E. H. Johnson, Stanton's confidential clerk from the 
beginning to the end of the Rebellion, contributes these entirely 
characteristic anecdotes : 

In receiving a committee of mercy in behalf of Mrs. Surratt, sentenced 
to be hanged for the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Stanton observed Dr. 
A., a surgeon in the United States army. Looking at him fiercely, Stanton 
said: "You had better take ofi those epaulettes; they are not an honor to 
you on this occasion." This was a wet blanket to the committee, who soon 
withdrew in confusion. 

When Adjutant-General Thomas came to serve President Johnson's or- 
der removing Mr. Stanton, he brought as a witness General Williams, re- 
cently married to the beautiful widow of the late Stephen A. Douglas. As 
soon as the order had been read, Mr. Stanton said: "General Williams, I am 
not surprised at the coming of General Thomas, but I am surprised to see 
you abetting him. Your presence, for the purpose for which you come, is an 
affront to your superior and unbecoming an officer of the army of the United 


States. I order you to your room." General Williams had not been ad- 
vised of the purpose to be served by his presence, and left the room at once. 

The achievements of General Stoneman's great cavalry force in Virginia 
were not satisfactory to Stanton, and on several occasions he called Stone- 
man to the Department for a severe talk. His face was thin and he looked 
as if he needed rest, sleep, and medicine. While waiting in the big room 
adjoining to see the Secretary, he fainted and fell to the floor. Surgeon- 
General Barnes, who was present, instantly took charge of the General and 
revived him. Mr. Stanton came quickly, and addressing the prostrate offi- 
cer, kindly bade him take some rest, and instructed General Barnes to at- 
tend him. If Mr. Stanton intended any harsh arraignment, he was discon- 
certed and softened by the incident, and merely said that he would see the 
General when he was better; but the General never came again. I always 
thought that he fainted in contemplation of the purpose of the stern Sec- 

At midnight of the first day's battle at Gettysburg, Lincoln came into 
the Secretary's room looking heart-broken. The secretary of the Phila- 
delphia Woman's Relief Corps, who was present on business, had been tell- 
ing about the incompetence of which she knew and heard much in the army 
of McClellan, when Stanton asked her to repeat it to the President, who 
replied: "My great mistake was in allowing General McClellan to hug Wash- 
ington a whole year." 

Senator J. B. Henderson of Missouri sought the pardon of a Confeder- 
ate who had been sentenced to death as a spy. It was the case of two broth- 
ers — one in the Union army with Grant, the other a Confederate soldier — 
fighting in Missouri. Mr. Stanton investigated the story told by Senator 
Henderson and advised him that the soldier had been found guilty as a spy, 
and must die according to the laws of war. The senator, who had been 
sent to the Secretary by Lincoln, returned to the President, who indorsed 
the papers with an order for a new trial. At the second trial the spy was 
again sentenced to be shot and the senator again brought the case to the 
Secretary, who was as inexorable as before. 

Upon the grounds that the war was practically over (Richmond, I think 
had just surrendered) Senator Henderson obtained a third trial, through 
the leniency of the President, which again resulted in a verdict of death. A 
third time the senator was sent to the Secretary by the President, with the 
plea that the war was over and that the man ought not to be shot, but Mr. 
Stanton would do nothing. The verdict of a court-martial levying the death 
sentence on a spy for the third time, he said, should never be set aside. I 
afterwards heard that the President, before he was assassinated, pardoned 
the spy. The tender-hearted President would not have a court-martial death 
sentence carried out, and my impression is that for this reason Congress by 
an act took the power of interference away from him. 

Colonel Payton was recruiting his regiment in Philadelphia, but in the 
time allowed could not complete the quota and asked for an extension of 
thirty days. Governor Curtin and other prominent Pennsylvanians joined in 
the recommendation, on which Lincoln made the following endorsement: 
"Allow Colonel Payton the additional time required, unless there be reason 
to the contrary unknown to me." Under these words Secretary Stanton en- 


dorsed: "There is good and valid reason for not extending the time and the 
Secretary of War refuses to do it." In every refusal to execute endorse- 
ments of this kind by the President Mr. Stanton was in the right. 

A senator came from the President w^ith papers asking for the re- 
moval of the charge of desertion against a private soldier. Of all things, 
a deserter was the most repugnant to the Secretary, and with a motion of 
his hand he refused to receive the paper, and said impatiently: "This is 
the case of a deserter, is it? I want nothing to do with it. We have too 
many of that kind. We had better make a few examples by shooting a 
deserter now and then." The senator was visibly angry, and said he would 
take the case back to the President. He returned later with an order from 
the President for the removal of the charge of desertion, but Stanton refused 
to execute it. Thereupon the senator quickly left, but Mr. Stanton called 
him back and directed the adjutant-general to execute the order, at the same 
time saying to the senator: "The President's kindness to the private soldier 
under whatever charge, is bad; no commander could afford to exercise it." 
The senator said he would get the President's order to amend the record 
and place the soldier right on the rolls, to which Mr. Stanton rejoined 
with irritation: "Go to the President, if you please, for I will not consider 
the case, nor will I execute the order." The President's order was exe- 
cuted by the adjutant-general without Mr. Stanton's approval, and prob- 
ably without a substantial base of justice. 

Mr. Stanton was always looking out for cases of conspicuous bravery 
in battle that he might instantly make suitable recognition by promotion. 
Such acts gave him special pleasure in cases of volunteers, for the reputa- 
tion of West Point was at a very low ebb in the purer teachings of patriot- 
ism. It was the boast of Jefiferson Davis that he had the pick of the offi- 
cers of our army, and he did carry with him into the Confederate service 
sixty-four West Point generals. This fact and the declaration of Davis 
tainted the whole regular army. In order to offset it, Mr. Stanton made 
promotions for personal bravery and meritorious conduct in hundreds of 
cases without waiting for the recommendations of the commanding gen- 

In the case of General Robert C. Schenck, who fell fighting at the 
head of his division in the second battle of Bull Run, in 1862, Mr. Stanton 
sent a promotion to be major-general, with the following letter, which I 
delivered in person at Willard's Hotel: 

"My Dear Sir: — No official act has been performed by me with more 
pleasure than the just tribute to your ability and patriotism, conveyed by 
the enclosed appointment to the rank of major-general for gallant and 
meritorious service to your country. I hope your health may soon permit 
you to accept a command befitting your rank. My regret for the painful 
suffering you now endure from the wound received on the field of battle 
is enhanced by the need the Government has at this moment for your 

This letter, to one who entered the service without military experience, 
was intended by Mr. Stanton to show that brains and patriotism could re- 
place the losses suffered at West Point. 


The printed acts of Congress relating to the war came to the Secretary, 
but he never called for one. He knew them because he had drafted or in- 
spired practically every one, and in the reception room he showed his 
complete knowledge of the laws which bore upon each matter presented 
to him. 

His desk was always full of papers in confusion, and the accumulated 
letters I kept unfolded in boxes of letter size upon a high table about 
twelve feet long. I could put my hand upon any letter he wanted; he him- 
self never looked for one. He rarely answered any of the personal letters 
sent to or left with him. Sometimes he dictated answers and then did not 
send them. Nearly all his writing was confined to military matters, mostly 
telegrams, and in writing and sending these he seemed to take special 

Mr. Stanton's love for Democratic governors was very marked. They 
were his greatest hope for troops, and some of them gave him more than 
he asked. This was particularly true of Governor Brough of Ohio, to whom 
he was specially devoted. 

At the ceremony, which was private, of swearing in Andrew Johnson 
as president, immediately after President Lincoln's death, Stanton observed 
two unbidden guests — his two bitterest foes — Francis P. Blair, sr., and 
Montgomery Blair, the latter the postmaster-general dismissed from the 
cabinet by Lincoln during the previous September. As Stanton personally 
gave all the orders and directions relative to the ceremony, the presence 
of his two most relentless enemies gave him no little concern. He could 
not imagine how they got there. 

At that solemn moment, having taken his oath, the new President said: 
"I am deeply impressed with the solemnity of the occasion and the responsi- 
bility of the office I am assuming. Its duties are mine; I will perform them; 
the consequences are with God. Gentlemen, I shall lean upon you: I feel 
that I shall need your support." 

It is a singular fact that of the twelve persons including the entire 
cabinet save Seward, the two uninvited Blairs were the only ones selected 
by President Johnson to "lean upon." Instead of supporting him, the 
Blairs knocked the support from under him and nearly threw the country 
into another war. Their presence seemed prophetic, and in the distance 
they must have seen the fulfillment of plans conceived by them, when, at 
the second inauguration of Lincoln, they took Vice-President Johnson from 
the Senate chamber to their home at Silver Springs, Maryland, in a deplor- 
able condition. 

I never knew Mr. Stanton to appoint any relative to office except his 
brother-in-law [C. P. Wolcott] to be assistant secretary. The Secretary's 
own son, Edwin L., coming from Kenyon College without a cent, for some 
time acted as clerk to Assistant-Secretary Eckert without pay, but General 
Eckert finally appointed him to the clerkship which his father would not 

Mr. Stanton never read newspapers in his office, and none were fur- 
nished to him. He often locked himself in his room and, for an hour's rest 
upon the sofa, read Littell's Living Age. 


Mr. Stanton directed me to order certain English magazines — the Edin- 
burgh Quarterly, and Westminster Reviews. These magazines and the English 
press were open partisans of the Confederacy. They predicted that the 
Union could not be preserved and that the peace of Europe would be safer 
with two or three or even more Republics on the North American conti- 
nent in place of one. He read these predictions to the senators and repre- 
sentatives and especially a prophecy by Bulwer Lytton that soon there 
would be seen "not two but four separate and sovereign commonwealths 
arising out of those populations which a year ago united their legislation 
under one president and carried their merchandise under one flag." 

I have heard Mr. Stanton say that the treatment of our troubles by the 
English rang constantly in his ears and put upon him an increased deter- 
mination to bring out the full power of the Government to save the Union. 

He always believed that ultimately the Union would be saved. His 
first declaration was before the Supreme Court in January, 1861. Some mat- 
ter was pending in the celebrated Gaines case which looked forward to 
action by the court the next summer. "That will be impossible," said Caleb 
Gushing, opposing counsel, "because this nation and this court will not then 
be in existence!" The justices stared at each other in amazement. Mr. 
Stanton sprang to his feet, and, glaring at Gushing, exclaimed: "This court 
and this Union will endure until long after all knowledge of those now in 
this august presence has passed into oblivion!" After a few moments of 
profound silence court suddenly adjourned. From that moment Mr. Stan- 
ton was the great, originating, controlling, and saving power of the Gov- 

While the country was paying court to General Adam Badeau on ac- 
count of his relations with Grant, Stanton never noticed him. Badeau 
wrote to me for copies of certain telegrams from General Halleck alleging 
the drunkenness of Grant at the battle of Shiloh, but Stanton told me to 
pay no attention to it and I obeyed, though I might have written that 
those messages were not then on file. Badeau disliked Stanton very much 
and so did every other member of Grant's staff, for he paid no attention 
whatever to them. Of course they attempted to poison Grant against Stan- 
ton and to some extent succeeded, and they have ever since attempted to 
poison history. 

Grant came very seldom to the Department to see Mr. Stanton, after 
the war closed, and generally never stayed more than a few minutes. Mr. 
Stanton very seldom sent for him, and so far as I can recall, always des- 
patched the colored messenger [Madison] which made all at Grant's head- 
quarters mad, for no doubt the message was delivered as it was sent: "Tell 
General Grant to come over here." In the same way Mr. Stanton sent me 
to Secretaries Seward, Chase, and others. Although I delivered a polite 
request, I could see they did not like it, but they always came. 

Henry L. Dawes tells frankly how, with others equally prom- 
inent and trusted, he once was led to impose upon Lincoln, but was 
unable, though armed with one of the most circumstantially com- 
plete cases presented, to hoodwink Stanton. 


A quartermaster from Massachusetts had been caught by Stan- 
ton's agents gambling with public funds and was sentenced to the 
penitentiary for five years. Soon afterward Dawes received a long 
petition indorsed by the prison physicians and other medical au- 
thority, stating that the culprit's health was broken and that he 
must be pardoned soon or die imprisoned. Lincoln on receiving 
the petition asked Dawes if he believed the statements therein con- 
tained. He did, and so stated on the back of the paper, and Lin- 
coln ordered the man to be pardoned. Stanton refused to execute 
the order and informed Lincoln that the petition was a sham and 
the prisoner one of the worst rascals in the country. In due time, 
however, Dawes succeeded in inducing Lincoln to send the pardon 
over Stanton's head in order to prevent a man from dying in prison. 
A few days later Dawes returned to Massachusetts and, he says, al- 
most the first man he met, hale and robust and cheery was the 
thieving quartermaster who had been pardoned over Stanton's pro- 
test because he was "dying" ! 

The son of a man who had befriended Lincoln in the days of 
his poverty, desired a certain army appointment. Congressmen 
Julian of Indiana and Lovejoy of Illinois went to Lincoln, who in- 
dorsed the application and sent them with it to Stanton. 

"No," said the Secretary. 

"Let us give his qualifications," suggested the Congressmen. 

"I do not wish to hear them," was the reply. "The position 
is of high importance. I have in mind a man of suitable experience 
and capacity to fill it." 

"But the President wishes this man to be appointed," per- 
sisted the callers. 

"I do not care what the President wants ; the country wants 
the very best it can get. I am serving the country," was the retort, 
"regardless of individuals." 

The disconcerted Congressmen returned to Lincoln and re- 
cited their experience. The President, without the slightest per- 
turbation, said : 

Gentlemen, it is my duty to submit. I cannot add to Mr. Stanton's 
troubles. His position is one of the most difficult in the world. Thousands 
in the army blame him because they are not promoted and other thousands 
out of the army blame him because they are not appointed. The pressure 
upon him is immeasurable and unending. He is the rock on the beach of 
our national ocean against which the breakers dash and roar, dash and 


roar without ceasing. He fights back the angry waters and prevents them 
from undermining and overwhelming the land. Gentlemen, I do not see 
how he survives, why he is not crushed and torn to pieces. Without him 
I should be destroyed. He performs his task superhumanly. Now do not 
mind this matter, for Mr. Stanton is right and I cannot wrongly interfere 
with him. 

Colonel William P. Wood, superintendent of the Old Capitol 
and Carroll prisons in Washington during the Rebellion, was sent 
by Stanton to learn accurately about English officers who were al- 
leged to be in active command in the Confederate armies. Dressed 
as a North Carolina insurgent, through the aid of Mrs. Greenhow of 
Richmond, he became acquainted with two such officers and played 
cards with them several nights, learning their commands, viewing 
their papers, and unearthing their purposes. Much elated, he re- 
turned with these facts to Stanton, who exclaimed vehemently: 

"Where are the men? Why didn't you bring the men? Why 
didn't you bring them ?" 

"That was Stanton," says Colonel Wood. "I nearly lost my 
neck in carrying out his perilous instructions, and succeeded in se- 
curing the information wanted, but that was nothing; he was de- 
termined to have those British officers who were fighting the United 
States taken inflagrante delictu and brought bodily to his office with 
British papers in the pockets of their Confederate uniforms and was 
in high dudgeon because I had not done it. That was impossible, 
but Mr. Stanton hardly regarded anything as impossible. He acted 
on that theory not less with himself than with his trusted agents, 
who filled the bill as best they could at any hazard. No man serv- 
ing with him dared to fail." 

John C. Hesse, chief clerk of the Bureau of Records and Pen- 
sions, says that one reason why many important orders and 
documents of the Rebellion period are missing from the files 
df the War Department is that Stanton often penned them in 
haste on stray scraps of paper and handed them personally to the 
officers who were to obey or execute them. Another reason is that 
during the war, owing to the great pressure of business and a short- 
age of clerks, large numbers of original papers were sent to the 
public printer as "copy" and that individual, having cut them into 
"takes," burned or sold them as waste after they had been put in 



Stanton habitually invoked divine favor in behalf of his gener- 
als and their armies and thanked God for their many victories. His 
bulletin of April 9, 1862, which closed with decisive thanks and 
praise to Generals Halleck, Grant, Pope, Curtis, and Sigel for their 
gallant conduct at the bloody battles of Pea Ridge, Pittsburg Land- 
ing, and Island No. 10, Ordered: 

That at meridian of the Sunday next after the receipt of this order, at 
the head of every regiment of the armies of the United States, there shall 
be offered by its chaplain a prayer giving thanks to the Lord of Hosts for 
the recent manifestations of His power in the overthrow of rebels and 
traitors, and invoking a continuance of His aid in delivering this nation by 
its army of patriotic soldiers from the horrors of rebellion, treason, and 
civil war. 

At night of the first day's battle of Gettysburg, Mrs. John Har- 
ris, secretary to the Philadelphia Woman's Relief Corps, came to 
ask for a permit to carry supplies for use on the battle-field. "He 
told her not to go," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, "because within 
twenty-four or even twelve hours Lee might be marching against 
the city. So great was his feeling that he wept as he suggested 
that she return at midnight, when he might have more reassuring 
news. Before her departure he prayed, for he possessed an almost 
superstitious sense of human dependence upon an incessant and di- 
rect intervention of divine power." 

He never ceased to implore the aid of the great religious bodies 
of the country in behalf of the Union and kept closely in touch with 
their leaders and divines. He gave Dr. Heman Dyer of New York 
views of the McClellan imbroglio which were communicated to no 
one else, and consulted frequently with Henry Ward Beecher, 
Henry W. Bellows, Archbishop John Hughes, and Theodore Tilton 
of New York ; Bishop Matthew Simpson of Philadelphia ; Arch- 
bishop Purcell of Cincinnati; Bishop E. R. Ames of Baltimore; 


Bishop M. J. Spalding of Louisville and Baltimore ; Dr. C. W. Hall, 
the Reverend T. A. Starkey, and the Reverend Byron Sunderland of 
Washington, and many others, and also kept them privately in- 
formed concerning the war. When he was aware of favorable mili- 
tary news, he found a way to communicate it to certain ministers of 
the gosepl who gave it to their congregations from the pulpit and 
thus cheered, strengthened, and sustained the community. 

His first civil appointment was that of Bishop E. R. Ames of 
Baltimore to look after captives held in Southern prisons. He ap- 
pointed Dr. Heman Dyer's son, who was terribly wounded in bat- 
tle, to be paymaster; he gave to Bishop Simpson's son a good army 
position in Pennsylvania ; he assiduously looked after the welfare 
of other divines and repeatedly offered honorable appointments to 
them. A letter by Bishop Simpson to his family, written at Wash- 
ington, January 20, 1863, bears interestingly on this point : 

I preached Sunday at Foundry church. Crowded house. Secretary 
Stanton and his wife were in front, on chairs; President Lincoln in the 
altar. The President made by contribution a life member; collection $770. 
Secretary Stanton sent for me; was about telegraphing to Evanston. 
Wished me to be chairman of a commission to visit Fortress Monroe, Port 
Royal, and New Orleans to examine the condition of the colored people and 
make suggestions. He wanted three public men apart from politics. He 
offered transportation, assistance, a clerk, and fair compensation. I have, 
however, declined every such proposition. 

During the fearful draft riots in New York City in July, 1863, 
Stanton (by special messenger) invited Archbishop John Hughes, 
the most original, influential, and powerful Catholic in America, to 
visit him in Washington. On returning to New York his eminence, 
who had been Stanton's friend and an aggressive supporter of the 
Union from the first, called a meeting at his residence to devise 
means of suppressing the emeute, and appealed to the clergy and 
laity throughout the country (for there were riots almost every- 
where) to support the Government and discountenance resistance. 
He made his last public address at this time, and by his personal 
activity, aided more, perhaps, than any other individual to perma- 
nently neutralize the prevailing distemper. 

In November, 1863, Stanton issued an order placing all the 
Methodist church edifices in the South which were without loyal 
pastors, under control of Bishop Ames, provided their pulpits should 
be filled by persons who could be relied upon to support the Gov- 


ernment. The trust was accepted ; money was set aside by the 
church to carry it out and the Union cause was thereby greatly 
strengthened by an independent force which required no pay or 
attention from the War Department. 

In January, 1865, Stanton made a trip on the Spalding to Sa- 
vannah to consult with General W, T. Sherman concerning the 
negro and cotton problems. At the usual church hour on Sunday, in 
mid-ocean, he called those on board about him and held Episcopal 
services, reading from the Bible and pronouncing a sermon explana- 
tory of certain passages bearing upon the war. "His remarks were 
very clear and able," says General E. D. Townsend, who was pres- 
ent, "and at the conclusion he prayed fervently for the success of the 
Union arms and the restoration of peace and brotherly feeling 
between the sections." 

That Stanton entertained no crude or insincere conception 
of the value of the aid contributed by the leaders of the churches 
is shown by the following letter: 

Washington City, November 24, 1866. 

It gives me pleasure to introduce to you the Reverend Matthew Simp- 
son, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, who visits New Orleans and 
perhaps will go to Texas to hold a conference. He is accompanied by his 
son who is in ill health. 

Bishop Simpson is no doubt known to you as one of the most eloquent, 
learned, and patriotic men of our country and age. No one during the war 
did so much to encourage and strengthen loyal and patriotic sentiments and 
to sustain the army by appeals to the benevolence of the people. 

I commend him and his son to your kindest attention and courtesy, be- 
lieving that you will take pleasure in contributing to their comfort by any 
means in your power. If the Bishop should go to Texas, I request you to 
give him such letters to officers in your command as may be of service and 
protection to him there. 

With sincere regard, I am, 

Truly yours, 
Major-General Sheridan, Edwin M. Stanton, 

Commanding, New Orleans. Secretary of War. 

While imprisoned in the War Department during the contest 
with President Johnson, Stanton sent for Bishop Simpson. He 
wanted to know whether the God-fearing portion of the people 
endorsed his course ; and, if not, what they thought he ought to do. 
On being told that the loyal and Christian masses approved his 
attitude fully and hoped he would never surrender, he seemed much 


gratified and requested the Bishop to pray,* the hour being 2 
o'clock in the morning. A few days later he wrote tenderly as fol- 
lows to the good bishop who had lost a son : 

Washington City, March 26, 1868. 
My Dear Friend: 

I sympathize deeply with you and your family in the recent dispensa- 
tion of Providence that has brought mourning to your household. The be- 
reavement, however certain and long expected, falls not less heavily when 
a loved one is called from earth to mansions in the sky. 

To you I will not presume to ofifer consolation, for you know better 
than I whence it can come; but I hope it will not be regarded intrusive for 
me to ask to share your sorrow. With sincere affection, 

Truly your friend. 
The Reverend Bishop Simpson. Edwin M. Stanton. 

Stanton did not confine the use of religion as a war measure to 
the activities of others, but was himself a believer in faith and 
prayer. "I know that frequently during the war," says the Rev- 
erend John P. Newman, "Secretary Stanton retired to a private 
room in the War Department and prayed for his country." 

"More than half a dozen times when calling on Secretary Stan- 
ton in the War Department," says the Reverend Charles W. Hall, 
"he led me into his private office and invited me to pray — 'Pray for 
Mr. Lincoln, pray for the country, pray for our armies and their 
commanders, and pray for me.' His religion got nothing from rit- 
uals or church forms. It was not emotional or spasmodic, but 
a deep conviction of right-thinking and right-doing which included 
love of country and an abiding resolve to make any required sac- 
rifices in its behalf." 

On March 30, 1869, he received the sacrament of baptism from 
his old friend the Reverend William Sparrow (who, as professor in 
Kenyon College in 1832, was the guide and counselor of his youth) 
in the presence of General E. Shriver, General E. D. Townsend, 
General M. C. Meigs, and several other army officers and friends 
who had been invited. 

*Says Miss S. Elizabeth Simpson of Philadelphia: "My father and Sec- 
retary Stanton were very intimate and very frequently consulted on im- 
portant topics. No matter how great the pressure, the Secretary's room 
was always open to my father. I have heard him say that when calling at 
the War Department during the more anxious days, Mr. Stanton would lead 
him by the arm into the private office and say, 'Now, Bishop, pray.' " 


"He was to have been confirmed at the next coming of the 
Bishop," says the Reverend T. A. Starkey, "and I should have pre- 
sented him for that second rite, considering him spiritually prepared 
to receive it;* but he died before the Bishop arrived. I w^as at his 
bedside engaged in spiritual duties for three hours before his death, 
which he approached without fear, his great work being finished 
and his heart ready." 

♦Although he left Steiibenville more than twenty years before his death, 
he regularly paid pew rental in several churches in that city; gave money 
to building and parsonage funds, and at one time was a trustee and at- 
torney of the Church of the Disciples. He was for years a pew-holder, 
though not a communicant, of Epiphany Church in Washington, in which 
his children were baptized. 



Ulysses S. Grant died in July, 1885. A few months later his 
"Personal Memoirs" made their appearance. In them among other 
criticisms of Stanton, may be found the following, in Volume II. : 

[P. 37] Owing to his natural disposition to assume all power and 
control in all matters that he had anything whatever to do with (a) he 
boldly took command of the armies, and, while issuing no orders on the 
subject, (b) prohibited any order from me going out of the adjutant-gen- 
eral's office until he had approved it. This was done by directing the ad- 
jutant-general to hold any orders that came from me to be issued through 
the adjutant-general's office until he had examined them and given them 
his approval, (c) He never disturbed himself, either, in examining my 
orders until it was entirely convenient for him, so that orders which I had 
prepared often lay there three or four days before he would sanction them. 
I remonstrated against this in writing and the Secretary apologetically re- 
stored me to my rightful position as general-in-chief of the army. But he 
soon lapsed and took control much as before. 

[P. 573] (d) Mr. Stanton cared nothing for the feelings of others. 
In fact, it seemed to be pleasanter to him to disappoint than gratify, (e) 
He felt no hesitation in assuming the functions of the Executive, or acting 
without advising with him. * * * (f-j yj^j. Lincoln was not timid 
and he was willing to trust his generals in making and executing their 
plans. The Secretary was very timid and (g) it was impossible for him 
to avoid interfering with the armies covering the capital when it was sought 
to defend it my making an offensive movement against the army guarding 
the Confederate capital. * * * (j^-j j-;,^ enemy -would not have 
been in danger if Mr. Stanton had been in the fieldl 

(a) Stanton, acting ministerially, had "command of the arm- 
ies," Grant included, without taking it "boldly" or otherwise. The 
law gave it to him. The United States Supreme Court had decided 
unanimously that the secretary of war, when acting in war matters, 
is supreme, in fact is the president; and that his orders and acts, 
as such, are the orders and acts of the president. To complain, 
therefore, that the secretary of war acted as the secretary of war, 
seems extremely childish and is entirely unlike Grant, 


(b) Stanton never "prohibited" the adjutant-general from is- 
suing Grant's orders. Immediately after the appearance of the 
"Personal Memoirs," Adjutant-General Townsend, in response to 
a written request to do so, refuted the charge quoted above, saying: 

Mr. Stanton instructed the adjutant-general to show him all the "gen- 
eral orders" before issuing them. They were put in type and taken to him. 
This proper and legal practise prevailed a long time before General Grant 
came to Washington. After he came the rule prevailed until Mr. Stanton 
himself changed it by directing the issue of Grant's orders in the General's 
name. Occasionally — a very few times indeed — he said: "Leave that with 
me; I want to see General Grant about that before it is issued." Other- 
wise, as I personally know, and as the records will prove, the General's 
orders were never permitted to lie on the Secretary's or any other table. 

In fact, after the General had fully established headquarters in Wash- 
ington, the Secretary instructed me to issue his orders at once and bring a 
copy to him afterwards, and that was the invariable rule. 

Finally, Mr. Stanton suggested or drafted the law of 1867 which made 
General Grant supreme in military matters! 

Mr. Stanton did not "soon lapse" as stated in ,the "Memoirs," nor 
"lapse" at all. He never "lapsed," and I do not undertake to guess why that 
unfounded statement is made in the "Memoirs." 

Thus, Grant's "Memoirs" not only belie the record, but in 1869, 
when Grant became president, he issued (March 26) an order di- 
recting that "all official business which by law or regulation requires 
the action of the President or Secretary of War, will be submitted 
by the chiefs of stafif corps. Departments, and bureaus to the Secre- 
tary of War"" — the very thing his "Memoirs" condemn in Stanton! 

In 1897 General John M, Schofield, who had been secretary of 
war and lieutenant-general of the armies, put forth a volume 
("Forty-six Years in the Army") devoted exclusively to war history. 
Therein he refutes the assumption of Grant's "Memoirs" and fully 
sustains Stanton's practise, explaining that he ofificially "disclaimed 
the right to issue any order without the knowledge of the President 
or the Secretary." 

(c) That Grant could utter anything which would be so pal- 
pably disagreeable to the public mind as that Stanton "never dis- 
turbed himself" about performing public duty, seems incredible. 
Stanton was notoriously an enemy to laggards and drones ; and, 
beyond the assassination of Lincoln, no feature of the Rebellion is 
more salient than that, pressing and delving on night and day, 
sparing or thinking of himself never, he literally wore himself out, 


"disturbed himself" to death in the prompt and vigorous perform- 
ance of the prodigious labors of the War Office. 

"Mr. Stanton never neglected anything," says General Thomas 
M. Vincent, assistant adjutant-general under Stanton. "Every 
day's vv^ork was complete before he left the office at night, and fre- 
quently he did not leave at all at night but the next morning. His 
wife, who could see that he was destroying himself, frequently came 
at midnight or a little later, for the purpose of inducing him to go 
home. I have known him many times to keep on nevertheless with 
work that he regarded as important until nearly or quite daylight, 
Mrs. Stanton patiently but anxiously waiting for him. To say that 
such a man did not disturb himself to perform his duty is in 
v/retched taste, to be as mild as possible." 

It is impossible to believe that Grant indited or inspired that 
statement, for on August 12, 1867, he wrote to Stanton : "I cannot 
let the opportunity pass without expressing to you my deep appre- 
ciation of the zeal, patriotism, firmness, and ability with which you 
have eva- discharged the duties of secretary of war," and in his 
proclamation on December 24, 1869, announcing Stanton's death, he 
left an equally strong countervailing record. 

(d) "Mr. Stanton did 'care for the feelings of others,' and went 
out of his way very frequently to do kindnesses that were not ex- 
pected of him," says Adjutant-General Townsend, who for years 
was by his side night and day. "He probably sometimes made mis- 
takes — though none that were not in favor of the Government — but 
he took great pains to rectify such mistakes, which were generally 
if not invariably the result of misapprehension in others." 

Stanton "cared for the feelings" of Grant and showed it in 
many substantial ways. He telegraphed frequently to him like a 
brother. Thus, on May 9, 1864, 1 A. M. : "I enclose all the informa- 
tion we have. May God bless you and crown you and your gallant 
army with victory." 

On May 14, 1864, in response to Grant's request that General 
John Gibbon be made a major-general, he telegraphed: "There is 
no vacancy for a major-generalship, but I will muster some one out 
for Gibbon" — which meant he would do it to please Grant ! 

Gibbon repaid Stanton by viciously denouncing him at reunions 
of the Army of the Potomac. 

Thus to Grant on December 25, 1864: "My best wishes and 9 
Merry Christmas !" 


At 3 P. M., on March 3, 1865, Grant telegraphed to Stanton re- 
questing the appointment of General John A. Rawlins as brigadier- 
general and asked the Secretary's favorable recommendation. As 
soon as he could seize a pen Stanton replied by telegraph : "The 
name of General Rawlins will be sent in immediately and with 
great pleasure.'' 

Upon the surrender of Lee, the following splendid acknowledg- 
ment was sent by Stanton to Grant at 9 :30 P. M. of April 9, 1865 : 

Thanks be to Almighty God for the great victory with which he has 
this day crowned you and the gallant army under your command. The 
thanks of this Department, of the Government, and of the people of the 
United States, their reverence and honor, have been deserved by and will 
be rendered to you and the brave officers and soldiers of your army for all 

On April 12, 1865, during the jubilee in Washington over the 
fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee, a great throng, led by 
bands of music, marched to Stanton's residence for the purpose of 
doing homage to the life-giving figure of the Rebellion, shouting: 
"Stanton, Stanton ! a speech, a speech !" 

Thereupon, Stanton, ignoring the palpable fact that the demon- 
stration was a tribute to him alone, led out and presented Grant, 
who, unknown to the public, had that day become his guest. Twice 
again the multitude called, "Stanton, Stanton ; a speech, a speech !" 
and twice again the Secretary led forth the hero of Appomattox to 
receive the wild huzza of honor intended for himself! 

Thus, the day before Lincoln was shot, April 13, 1865, he sent 
this note to General Grant : 

I suggested to the President my desire to invite you to the cabinet meet- 
ing to-morrow as one of us. He cordially assented. 

Your presence will afford the President and the members of the cabi- 
net an opportunity to express their gratitude and that of the nation 
to you for your invaluable services in putting down the Rebellion, and at 
the same time permit us to have the benefit of your views on reconstruction, 
a matter which I design shall be quite fully discussed at the meeting men- 

I may as well say, and I take great pleasure in doing so, that your presence 
will be welcome at any cabinet conference held while you may be in the city. 
To this suggestion also the President assented willingly. 

Heavily as he was burdened, Stanton found time to communi- 
cate by telegraph with Mrs. Grant in New York, St. Louis, or 


wherever she might be when not with her husband, and then to 
telegraph her words and greetings to cheer the General in the field. 

No father for his son, no husband for his wife was ever more 
thoughtful than Stanton was for Grant. That is the record, and 
"what is written is written." How, then, could Grant write that 
Stanton "cared nothing for the feelings of others and it seemed 
pleasanter for him to disappoint than gratify"? 

Almost identically the same words are used by Adam Badeau, 
p. 81, in his "Grant in Peace." How did they get also into Grant's 

Stanton's thoughtfulness did not stop with Grant. Practically 
every commander in the army received from him words of praise, 
support, or cheer that were intended to gratify and not disappoint, 
of which these examples, not familiar to the public, and not hitherto 
quoted, will suffice: 

Washington City, September 12, 1862. 

I regret to learn that you have been suffering from ill health and hope 
that you may be speedily restored and so as to return with fresh vigor and 
strength to your command. 

The difficulties under which you were supposed to labor by the 
change of command upon General Hunter's being relieved, will, I trust, be 
removed by the present commander of the Department. 

You have leave of absence for twenty days until your health is restored, 
and will please report to me a few days in advance of your return. If you 
need any further instructions, please apply to the Department for them. 

While regretting the necessity of leaving your command without orders, 
the circumstances are fully and satisfactorily explained, and the most entire 
confidence and regard are entertained for you by 

Yours truly, 
Brigadier-General Saxton. Edwm M. Stanton. 

Washington, D. C., August 5, 1863. 
Dear General: 

I hope you are recovering from your severe wound. Of the many gal- 
lant officers wounded on the great field of Gettysburg, no one has more 
sincerely my sympathy than yourself. We felt that the blow that struck 
you down was a heavy and disastrous one to the country but rejoice that 
your life was saved and that you are not on the list of those whose loss 
we deplore. Yours truly, 

Edwin M. Stanton, 
General W. S. Hancock, Secretary of War. 


Thursday, November 29, 1864; 9 P. M. 
Dear Sir: 

I have just heard of Mrs. Vincent's illness. I congratulate her and 
yourself on the birth of a son and hope she may be speedily restored to 

In the meantime you are relieved from duty at the Department. * * * 
Do not trouble yourself with any business. The details of organization for 
Hancock's corps can be made out by others and I will so direct. Give 
such orders as are necessary to your chief clerk and remain at home with 
Mrs. Vincent until she is out of danger. 

Very truly yours, 
Colonel Vincent. Edwin M. Stanton. 

Gait House, Louisville, Ky., October 18, 1863. 

General Grant, who bears this brief note, will thank you in behalf of 
the people, the War Department, and myself, for the magnificent behavior 
of yourself and your gallant men at Chickamauga. 

You stood like a rock and that stand gives you fame which will grow 
brighter and brighter as the ages go by. God be praised for such men at 
such a time. You will be rewarded by the country and by the Department. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 
General George H. Thomas. Secretary of War. 

War Department, March 25, 1865; 8:35 P. M. 

I am very much gratified by your energy in organizing and administer- 
ing the affairs of your command, vindicating my judgment in assigning you 
to that position that you could not in any other render service so urgent and 
valuable to the Government. For wh^t you have already done you have 
the thanks of this Department. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 
General W. S. Hancock. Secretary of War. 

Washington, D. C, September 28, 1862; 11 P. M. 
Dear General: 

That Providence whose eye is upon the falling sparrow is saving you, 
for the country has great need of you. 

The President and myself are overjoyed by the report of the surgeon- 
general that your courage and vitality have prevented your wounds from 
ending fatally. 

When we called upon you together you were delirious; thank God, you 
are now out of danger. 

Let me know your wants and wishes; they will be granted with a re- 
joicing hand. 

Edwin M. Stanton, 
General R. C. Schenck. Secretary of War. 


War Department, December 20, 1864, 
General John A. Dix, 

New York: 

Your suggestion that matters are in such condition that you can now 
safely resign, will not be considered. I shall not mention the matter to 
the President. 

Your steadfastness and services since January, 1861, have been of 
measureless value to this Government. Your money, your great ability, 
and your personal labors and judgment have been freely given to the 
people — so freely that perhaps you do deserve now to retire, but I beg you 
not to think of it. 

Help us through to the end; and, after peace, which I trust and believe 
will be eternal, shall have settled upon us, I expect to see a grateful people 
wish to seat you in the presidential chair. 

With the best wishes of my heart, 

Edwin M. Stanton, 

Secretary of War. 

To Major-General Halleck, February 8, 1862: "Your energy 
and ability receive the strongest commendation. * * * 
You may rely upon the utmost support in your undertaking." 

To General J. E. Wool, February 22, 1862: "Accept my thanks 
for your vigilant and faithful attention. This Department will sup- 
port you in every particular. You have its perfect confidence and 

On March 18, 1862 : "Ordered, [by Edwin M. Stanton] That in 
recognition of faithful service by a distinguished and gallant officer, 
the name of the fort and the ripraps be changed from Fort Calhoun 
to Fort Wool." 

To General James Shields, March 26, 1862: "Your wounds as 
well as your success prove that Lander's brave division is still 
bravely led and that wherever its standard is displayed rebels will 
be routed and pursued." 

To General Burnside, April 25, 1862 : "Thanks, congratula- 
tions, and more men. Anything you need or desire?" 

To General Banks, May 25, 1862: "Your gallantry and skill 
deserve the greatest praise." 

To General G. W. Morgan: "This Department is highly grati- 
fied with your successful occupation of Cumberland Gap. Great 
thanks for your diligence and activity." 

To General O. M. Mitchell, May 5, 1862: "No general in the 
field deserves better of his country than yourself, and the Depart- 
ment rejoices to award credit to one who merits it so well." 


To General W. S. Rosecrans, 1862: "I desire to express the 
great* satisfaction which your operations have given to the Presi- 
dent and to the Department. * * * There is nothing you can 
ask within my power to grant to yourself and your heroic command 
that will not be most cheerfully given." 

To C. A. Dana, September 30, 1863: "The merit of General 
Thomas and the debt of gratitude the nation owes to his valor and 
skill are fully appreciated here and I wish you to tell him so. It 
is not my fault that he was not in chief command months ago." 

To General W. T. Sherman, March 22, 1865: "Accept my 
thanks for your letter. With the whole country I have been watch- 
ing in hope, confidence, and admiration your advance toward the 
final conquest of the Rebellion. * * * My earnest prayer is that 
Divine Providence may watch over you, shield you from every dan- 
ger, and crown you with its richest blessings. * * * Qod speed 
you !" 

When Grant lay sick in a hot, stufify hotel in Washington, Stan- 
ton wrote to General Halleck, who, with his family, was away from 
the capital, asking if he could not offer the use of his fine home to 
the invalid. Halleck replied by telegraph, "Certainly," and Grant 
accepted the refreshing change very gratefully. 

Thus, it is proven that Stanton was not only kind and thought- 
ful to Grant, but to all other commanders. Grant knew this and 
he also knew that he was indebted to the Secretary, directly or 
indirectly, for every substantial promotion of his life up to that of 
the presidency. 

"After returning from Louisville, in October, 1863, where he 
met Grant personally for the first time," says General M. C. Meigs, 
"Secretary Stanton frequently reverted to the General, saying he 
liked him because he 'never complained, never disobeyed orders, 
never talked politics, never wanted what the Government could not 
furnish' — qualities which he characterized as the very opposite in 
others whom he named. He was thoroughly rejoiced to meet a 
commander who cared nothing for neck-ties, drawing-room frip- 
pery, and military tail-feathers, exclaiming: 'Grant is splendid. He 
takes secession by the throat, not, like some of our Potomac milli* 
ners, by the tail.' " 

"At one time there were a great many complaints and a power- 
ful military conspiracy against Grant," says Assistant-Secretary C. 
A. Dana, "but as he was a fighter the Secretary did not care to 


bother with them. He wanted fighters." 

"Mr. Stanton steadfastly supported General Grant," says Gen- 
eral T. M. Vincent. "When there were hostile demonstrations, and 
at one time they were numerous, he neutralized them. After the 
battle of Fort Donelson, February 16, 1862, Stanton made him 
major-general of volunteers ; after Vicksburg, July 4, 1863, 
major-general, United States Army ; March 2, 1864, lieutenant-gen- 
eral, United States Army; March 17, 1864, general-in-chief ; July 
25, 1866, general, United States Army." 

"Mr. Stanton persistently pursued Grant with promotions, giv- 
ing the matter his personal attention," says Major A. E. H. John- 
son, Stanton's confidential clerk. "He followed them to the Senate. 
The man for the exigency had appeared, and Mr. Stanton fairly 
kicked him upward in the army." 

General Lucius Fairchild of Madison, Wisconsin, relates that 
when he visited the War Department a delegation was present 
ahead of him to ask for General Grant's removal. Among other 
things the spokesman said : "Why, General Grant drinks whiskey."* 
Instantly Stanton retorted : "You are mistaken, sir ; it is blood — 
EEBEL BLOOD!" The delegates withdrew. 

When Grant was running for the presidency in 1868 Stanton 
with his son Edwin L. went on the hustings in his behalf, and 
everywhere referred to him as the "great soldier," the "splendid 
captain," the "world's foremost commander," the "savior of the Re- 
public," the "triumphant leader of liberty," and so on. At Cleve- 
land, in September, so weak and full of suffering that he could not 
stand continuously through his speech, he said : 

I ask you who it was that fought your battles and bore your banners 
triumphant over Rebellion? Grant. Whose sword flashed in triumph over 
the traitors and rebels that sought to overthrow the banner of your national 
existence and destroy our name from among the nations of the earth? 
Grant's. We feel that the ark of our national safety rests upon the shoul- 
ders of Grant. Was it not so in the hour of our great struggle? And now 
the same hand that upheld our ark of safety in battle must uphold it four 
years longer. And I say in conclusion: Give to that hero three cheers and 
a tiger! HURRAH!! 

*Stanton sent General David Hunter to make an investigation, who 
reported: "Grant is modest; never swears; seldom drinks — only two drinks 
in three weeks I have been here; listens quietly; judges promptly; thinks 
for himself; takes advantage of the enemy's errors. He was appointed not 
an hour too soon to save this [Shenandoah] Valley." 

1;t ■ '-W 

w t; 



(e) Grant's declaration that Stanton "felt no hesitation in 
assuming the functions of the Executive," is equally strange and 
untrue. On page 403 of his testimony before the Impeachment 
Committee, Stanton swore : "I made an appeal to Mr. Lincoln not to 
require me to look into matters outside of my own Department un- 
less it was absolutely necessary. My time was all occupied in 
carrying on the war, and I had no opportunity to busy myself about 
matters not coming especially under my charge." 

Thus, instead of being an usurper of executive authority, his 
active aid and advice concerning general matters of administration 
were so much sought by Lincoln that Stanton begged to be per- 
mitted to confine himself more strictly to the duties of his own De- 

Just before the assassination Stanton advised Lincoln that the 
work for which he had accepted ofBce being finished and his health 
shattered, he wished to resign. "Tearing in pieces the paper con- 
taining the resignation," says Carpenter's "Six Months in the White 
House," "and throwing his arms about the Secretary's neck, the 
President said : 'You have been a good friend and a faithful servant, 
and it is not for you to say when your services are no longer needed.' 
Several friends of both parties were present and there was not a dry 
eye that witnessed the scene." 

Do these things seem to prove that Stanton was an usurper? 
Is it not remarkable that the charge of usurpation should come 
from one who, busy with field operations hundreds of miles away, 
knew nothing of the facts and could not be concerned personally 
or officially in those usurpations or even know of them, if there 
had been any? 

(f) The insinuation that Stanton was a coward ("very timid") 
is certainly curious. He was notoriously the opposite. From' 
youth he was a fearless striker, staking everything, life itself, for 
success. At eighteen, during the cholera at Columbus, Ohio, he 
risked his life for a young woman acquaintance who was soon to be 
married to another; at twenty-five, he jeopardized his life for his 
client in a murder trial at Cadiz ; later, he hazarded his life and 
limb (sustaining an injury from which he never recovered) while 
securing evidence that would be incontrovertible in the great Wheel- 
ing Bridge Case ; as Buchanan's attorney-general, he grappled with 
secession single-handed, throwing its leaders out of the cabinet and 
lashing the President himself to the mast ; as secretary of war under 


Lincoln he lost no opportunity to urge a forward movement, or a 
battle, or personally to strike a telling blow, as Grant was well 

(g) "It was impossible for Stanton to avoid interfering with 
the armies covering the capital when it was sought to defend it by 
an offensive movement against the army guarding the Confederate 
capital," says the "Memoirs." 

To thoroughly protect the nation's capital was the highest 
form of military statesmanship. Throughout the Rebellion, from 
the moment Davis was inaugurated "president" (February, 1861), 
the darling plan of the secessionists was to capture the Federal capi- 
tal and, until General Godfrey Weitzel entered Richmond in April, 
1865, their leaders always entertained a hope of ultimate success. 
The Confederacy fell when Richmond (its capital) fell. Had the 
Confederates captured Washington, with its wealth of records, ar- 
chives, documents, and financial treasures — including the chief of- 
ficers of the nation — the first result would have been foreign recog- 
nition. England had already informed the Confederate commission- 
ers in London that the Confederacy must strike a more decided blow 
before their States could be recognized as an independent nation. 
Edward de Stoeckl, the Russian minister in Washington, stated at a 
dinner that he would have recognized the Confederate States if 
they had captured the city, as was expected, after the first battle of 
Manassas. The French minister. Marquis de Montholon (son of 
the marshal who accompanied Napoleon to St. Helena) confirmed 
Baron de Stoeckl's statement. 

Thus, there were the weightiest of reasons for Stanton to save 
the capital at all hazards. There must be a head to everything that 
is successful. The Northern head was at Washington, and from 
that head Grant himself was drawing his salary, supplies, arms, 
men, promotions, thanks, and gold medals. There Congress met, 
there the Supreme Court sat in judgment, and there were enthroned 
his superiors, Lincoln and Stanton. It was vitally necessary, there- 
fore, not only to protect that head, but insure in absolute safety a 
stable government to sustain Grant and his generals and their arm- 
ies in the work of suppressing the Rebellion. 

But after he became general-in-chief Grant himself and not 
Stanton had absolute control of the disposition of troops about 
Washington, and the official records prove that he was not inter- 
fered with in any form whatever. In response to a letter from Lin- 
coln, Grant wrote as follows on May 1, 1864 : 

Gen. Wm. S. Rosecrans. 

Gen. Joseph Hooker. 


From my first entrance into the volunteer service of the country to the 
present day 1 have never had cause of complaint; have never expressed or 
implied a complaint against the administration or the Secretary of War for 
throwing any embarrassment in the way of my vigorously prosecuting what 
seemed to be my duty. Indeed, since the promotion which placed me in 
command of all the armies, and in view of the great responsibility and the 
importance of success, I have been astonished at the readiness with which 
everything asked for has been yielded without even an explanation being 

Either Grant was not being and had not been "interfered" with 
by Stanton, or in the above he was writing falsely to Lincoln. 
Either Grant's "Memoirs" are false or his letter is false. Stanton 
confirms the truth of the letter and the falsity oT the "Memoirs" in 
a letter of July 20, 1864, to Governor Smith of Vermont, thus : 

Your telegram of this date has been received. The Department can- 
not yet determine what troops will be retained near Washington. The 
disposition of the forces is in the province of Lieutenant-General Grant. 
So far as I can influence his action I shall be happy to conform to your 
wishes in regard to the Vermont brigade. I had a conversation on the 
subject this morning with Mr. Baxter of your State, but for obvious rea- 
sons no assurance can at present be given further than to recommend it 
to General Grant's favorable consideration. 

But let Grant finish the demolition of Grant. One night Stan- 
ton wrote to Senator B. F. Wade, chairman of the Committee on the 
Conduct of the War, and Major A. E. H. Johnson took the note to 
his rooms, suggesting that before closing the hearings Generals 
Grant and Meade also be summoned and questioned as to the man- 
ner in which the War Department had furnished men, munitions, 
facilities, and supplies for the great armies. The suggestion was 
acted upon and Grant, on May 18, 1865, testified as follows : 

Q. — In what manner has Mr. Stanton, the secretary of war, performed 
his duties in the supply of the armies and support of military operations? 

Ans. — Admirably. There have been no complaints. So far as he is 
concerned, there has been no ground for complaint. 

Q. — Has there ever been any misunderstanding with regard to the 
conduct of the war, in any particular, between yourself and the Secretary 
of War? 

Ans. — Never — none ever expressed to me. I never had reason to sup- 
pose that any fault was found with anything I had done. So far as the 
Secretary of War and myself are concerned, he has never interfered with my 
duties; never thrown any obstacles in the way of any supplies I have called for; 


never dictated a course of campaign to mc; never inquired what I was going to do. 
He has always seemed satisfied with what I did, and has always heartily co- 
operated with me. 

Thus Grant himself under oath testified that Stanton did not 
"interfere with his armies guarding the capital," and that is the 
fact, and the contrary statement in the "Memoirs" is not fact. 

However, the most peculiar fact that rises up to cry out against 
the injustice of Grant's criticism is a part of Grant's own experience 
at this period. The only time Stanton did not provide for the safety 
of Washington according to his own ideas was when he sent every 
available man from its defense to Grant himself, then operating 
before Petersburg, and thereby came within a hair's breadth of sac- 
rificing the capital ! 

He felt that he was making a mistake, but Grant wanted men 
and he sent them. Lee, in July, 1864, seeing this weakness on the 
Potomac, directed General Early to capture Washington. Early 
arrived almost within pistol-shot of the White House, and would 
have taken the city if he had not delayed his final attack. General 
Lew Wallace, with a handful of intrepid Maryland militia, threw 
himself upon Early, and, although repulsed, so demoralized the Con- 
federates by the vigor of his charge, that they were delayed a day 
in the proposed march into Washington, which they could have ac- 
complished easily. On the following day, seeing before him the 
cross of the Sixth Army Corps, which Grant had hastily forwarded, 
Early turned and fied, leaving his wounded behind. 

Thus, in the case of Grant himself is demonstrated the wisdom 
of Stanton's resolute determination to preserve the seat of Govern- 
ment in safety as well as the folly of Grant's criticism of that de- 
termination. On this vital point Major A. E. H. Johnson says : 

It was the wonder of the President and of Stanton at this time that 
Grant seemed oblivious to the danger of Washington until it was almost 
too late, for it was only at the last moment that he sent troops from the 
James by water to save the city. The President was in great alarm and Mr. 
Stanton told me to take to my home the bonds and gold (about $6,000) I had 
in the War Department safe belonging to Mrs. Stanton, and I kept them 
under my bed. Colonel Stager, superintendent of the Military Telegraph, 
seeing the danger, asked Mr. Stanton for leave to go home for a few days 
and was refused with the reply: "We must all leave soon unless relief 

It is a singular fact that during this alarming time Mr. Stanton did 
not send a single telegram to Grant, but President Lincoln told him to 


come to Washington with all the troops he could bring, after having made 
his position secure. Mr. Stanton made no demand on Grant for protec- 
tion; he sent him no telegrams for troops, but he called loudly upon the 
governors for help or the capital would be lost, thus showing not only a 
marvelous regard for Grant but his own inexhaustible resources. 

(h) "The enemy zvoiild not Jiavc been in danger if Mr. Stanton had 
been in the field," is the concluding sentence of the paragraph quoted 
from page 573 of Grant's "Memoirs." 

From the moment he entered the cabinet Stanton exerted every 
power of the Government to furnish men and means to his generals. 
Not only so, but he created a fleet of gun-boats which drove the in- 
surgent navy down the Alississippi and captured Memphis ; pro- 
vided means to destroy the dreaded Merrimae; went in person to 
blockade the James and capture Norfolk, and rescued Rosecrans at 
Chattanooga by a bold and energetic stratagem not thought of or 
deemed possible of execution by others. 

His own plans were not only admirable from a military stand- 
point and executed with great energy, but they were decisive in 
averting or retrieving national disasters brought about by the fail- 
ures or inactivity of his generals. He acted after all about him had 
failed, and with supreme success. 

Adjutant-General Townsend, a thoughtful and faithful Chris- 
tian and a competent and experienced militarist, writes: 

I consider the insinuation conveyed in the sentence "the enemy would 
not have been in danger if Mr. Stanton had been in the field," as a gratui- 
tous and base attempt to throw contumely on the memory of a great man. 
It means either that Mr. Stanton was a coward or had not the talent to 
conduct a military campaign. 

In the first place, emphatically, Mr. Stanton was no coward. In the 
second place, if he had made military science an active business, there is 
every reason to believe that his habit of going to the .bottom of whatever 
subject he had to deal with would have enabled him to arrange all details 
so as to make him a power in directing military movements. The most 
successful general is the one who skilfully and carefully prepares his army 
with food, ammunition, etc., ascertains the topography of his field of opera- 
tions; knows the enemy's strength, quality, and position and, in short, him- 
self attends to all essential details and then strikes with vigor, and strikes 
again with more vigor. 

This Mr. Stanton would have done. This he always did. 

The flings at Mr. Stanton found in the second volume of Grant's 
"Memoirs," I must say do not sound like Grant. As I read them they ex- 
cited keen regrets that so remarkable a book should be scarred in so painful 
a manner. 


Thus, considerable space is taken to refute seriatim certain 
misstatements appearing in the so-called "Personal Memoirs of 
Ulysses Simpson Grant." Grant's great name and the faith of the 
people in the absolute purity of his motives and the reliability of his 
utterances render such a course unavoidable. The fact is, however, 
that Grant never wrote, saw, or inspired those falsehoods. 

On Thursday, July 2, 1885, three weeks before his death, he 
handed to Dr. Douglas, one of his physicians, a very remarkable 
paper in which he stated that, in his condition, "life was not worth 
living," adding: "I am thankful to have been spared this long, be- 
cause it has enabled me to practically complete the work [less than 
one volume] in which I take so much interest. I cannot stir up 
strength enough to review it and make the additions and substitu- 
tions that would suggest themselves to me but not to any one else." 

On this point the testimony of Colonel N. E. Dawson of Wash- 
ington, for years Grant's confidential secretary, is very important. 
He says : 

Some weeks before the General's death, seeing that he could not 
long survive, we set about finishing his "Memoirs" and adding notes and 
dates which had been omitted, consulting and relying on such books and 
documents as he had indicated. 

On completing this work I announced my readiness to read the draft 
to him for his correction and approval. He seemed very much pleased 
to know that the work was done, but said he was weak and would not 
begin reading until morning. 

The following day found him weaker instead of stronger, and suffering 
deeply; and so did each succeeding day thereafter till the end came, and 
the reading never took place. - 

After his death the publishers were in a rush for the manuscript, and it 
was sent ofif in an irresponsible sort of way without any one in authority 
realizing that it contained statements which I know the General would not 
have permitted to go to the public and which reflect no sentiments that he 
ever entertained. 

Thus we see that Grant not only never wrote the untruths that 
appear in his "Memoirs" concerning Stanton, and never saw them, 
but that they "reflect no sentiment he ever entertained" ! 

When the minds of the people are poisoned by the circulation 
of slanders in the name of one so great as Grant, who can refrain 
from expressing disgust at the general rottenness of much that is 
extant as "history"? 


In Buchanan's cabinet, although a Democrat, Stanton con- 
stantly advised with the Republican leaders because he had found 
too many of his own party embroiled in secession ; and when Lin- 
coln succeeded to the presidency, he denounced the partisan trend 
which the new administration was giving to the management of the 
war. His letters to Judge Barlow emphatically opposed making 
General McClellan, just taking the field, the leader of the Demo- 
cratic party, and, while the insurrection continued, he demanded 
that loyal men only, regardless of political belief, be appointed or 
elected to ofifice. 

Generals Grant, Sheridan, and Butler — all war Democrats — 
testify that Stanton more than once urged upon them the necessity 
of military success in order to favorably influence on-coming elec- 
tions, and he never failed to contribute to the defeat of candidates 
not known to be in sympathy with the war. In 1863 he wanted the 
Union forces of Pennsylvania to nominate General W. S. Hancock 
for governor, but Governor A. G. Curtin was not only renominated 
but secured such thorough control of the convention that a resolu- 
tion endorsing Stanton was rejected with a roar of hostility. 

Later the Democrats met and nominated Judge G. W. Wood- 
ward (who had declared from the bench that the draft was uncon- 
stitutional) to oppose Curtin. Thereupon, the cry being that "a 
vote for Woodward is a vote for McClellan," McClellan being al- 
ready in the field for the presidency and supporting Woodward, 
Stanton rallied the enormous influence of his Department in favor of 
Curtin and helped to give him a great majority. 

In June, 1864, the administration forces renominated Lincoln at 
Baltimore, but defeat at the polls was for some time anticipated by 
Lincoln and nearly everybody else except Stanton. 

The convention adopted a platform demanding the retirement 
of any cabinet officer not in accord with the ruling elements of the 
administration — a direct blow, it was alleged, at Postmaster-Gen- 


eral Blair. But as Lincoln did not act on that demand ; as the en- 
tire influence of the South, through disunionists in the North, was 
exerted in behalf of McClellan (who had, in the meantime, been 
nominated for the presidency by the Democrats) and as the radical 
party of the North had nominated General John C. Fremont for 
president and General John Cochrane for vice-president, the admin- 
istration ticket seemed to be in danger of defeat. At this moment 
the following letter was sent to seventeen loyal governors : 

Private and Coniidential. New York, September 2, 1864. 

Your Excellency: 

The undersigned have been requested by an influential body of 
Unionists to communicate with the loyal governors for the purpose of 
eliciting replies to the following queries: 

1. In your judgment is the election of Mr. Lincoln a probability? 

2. In your judgment can your State be carried for Mr. Lincoln? 

3. In your judgment do the interests of the Union party and of the 
country require the substitution of another candidate in place of Mr. Lin- 

In making these inquiries we express no opinion of our own and request 
yours only for the most private and confidential use. 
Yours truly, 
Horace Greeley, Editor of the Tribune. 
Park Godwin, Editor of the Evening Post. 
Theodore Tilton, Editor of the Independent. 

Several, probably a majority, of the war governors thus ad- 
dressed, communicated with Stanton before replying. His advice 
was prompt and decisive, as his letter to Governor J. Gregory Smith 
of Vermont, attests : 

In replying to yours of the 6th enclosing the circular of Messrs. Greeley, 
Godwin, and Tilton asking my opinion thereon, I have no hesitation 
in declaring that the only promise of success in November lies in a clear 
field and an undivided North for President Lincoln. This is no time to 
discuss his mistakes, and whatever they may be thought to have been, 
any other person as president probably would have made as many or more. 
The Union cannot be saved by dividing its support, a fact which ought to 
be as patent to Greeley, ct al, as it is to our enemies. 

A majority of the governors replied to the Greeley-Godwin- 
Tilton letter along the line indicated in Stanton's communication ; 
Lincoln (on September 23) called on Blair to resign and Fremont 
and Cochrane withdrew, the latter taking the hustings with great 
effect against McClellan. 


During the campaign, insurgent agents in the North laid plans 
to bring deserters from Canada and enemies from the South to New 
York and other large cities where fires were to be set and other des- 
perate disturbances put afoot on election day with the expectation 
of so distracting public attention that the election of McClellan 
could be accomplished by stuffing ballot boxes and other frauds. 

Stanton, fully informed of these plans, sent military reinforce- 
ments to New York and elsewhere ; swore in thousands of extra 
marshals, and took such other precautions that the plot was wholly 
thwarted. Provost-Marshal-General Fry states, and so does C. A. 
Dana, that Stanton carried the election for Lincoln, and insisted 
from the first that he would do so. 

As soon as that result had been accomplished. Grant sent a tele- 
gram of congratulation to Stanton, and S. P. Chase, who left the 
cabinet in July, also sent a congratulatory note, to which he received 
this reply, dated November 19, 1864 : 

My Dear Friend: 

Your welcome note found me in bed, where I have been for some 
days. It came with healing on its wings, for I am in a condition in which 
nothing can serve me better than the voice of a friend, and of no friend 
more effectively tham yourself. 

I am better now and again at work, but with feeble and broken health 
that can only be restored by absolute rest from all labor and care. This 
I long for and hope soon to have. Our cause is now, I hope, beyond all 
danger, and when Grant goes into Richmond, my task is ended. To you 
and others it will remain to restore the fruits of victory and see that they 
do not turn to ashes. 

Thus is the fact again declared from within that Stanton cared 
nothing for political or official power and remained in public service 
only for the purpose of crushing the insurrection and restoring the 

"Ilis position was very trying," says General Grant, "there 
being so many politicians in the army and so many military men 
among politicians, each trying to swerve the movements of the 
other. I have always thought he managed that difficult combina- 
tion well — better than it could have been done by any other man of 
the day." 

"Although Mr. Stanton despised politics," says Charles A. 
Dana, "he was altogether the best politician in the Lincoln adminis- 
tration. He fully understood the temper of the masses ; knew what 
fruit each act would bear and looked to the possible consequences 


of every step before it was taken. Still, he kept partisanship thor- 
oughly out of the War Department and used politics and politicians 
only to help the Government." 

In 1866 he was instrumental in calling two great conventions 
in Pittsburg" and Philadelphia to counteract two mass-meetings as- 
sembled by President Johnson to advocate "My Policy," and they 
•were remarkably successful. 

In July, 1868, the Democrats held a "Soldiers' and Sailors' Con- 
vention" in New York simultaneously with their national conven- 
tion which nominated Horatio Seymour for president. The former 
convention, of which General W. B. Franklin (one of McClellan's 
closest friends) was chairman, unanimously adopted, under suspen- 
sion of the rules, the following anti-Stanton resolution : 

Resolved, That the thanks of this convention and of all patriotic 
and right-minded citizens are due to the President of the United States for 
the removal of E. M. Stanton from the War Department of the Government, 
a position which the said Stanton has disgraced and dishonored ever since 
his appointment to that office by his many acts of cruelty (both to the 
Union and Confederate soldiers) and by his official acts of tyranny, and 
that soldiers should on all occasions meet him with the same feelings of 
outraged dignity and patriotism that he was received with on that evef 
memorable occasion in the city of Washington from the great and gracious 
soldier, General W. T. Sherman. 

Resolutions of this malevolent character, together with the in- 
tense activity of the South — eight of the insurrectionary States be- 
ing back in the Union with voting power — gave Stanton much anx- 
iety. He feared that what had been gained with the bayonet 
might be lost through the ballot. Therefore, when Seymour began 
traveling back and forth advising the people to vote for him because 
the war debt was large and taxes high, Stanton shouted his pro- 
tests with vehement and lofty eloquence. 

Although too feeble to stand during an entire address, he 
opened the Grant campaign in his native city of Steubenville on 
September 25, to an immense concourse of people, and spoke as 
Charles A. Dana says, "with a lift of imagination, and a grandeur of 
ideas that made his language glow like fire." 

General Grant stands this day before you the foremost military com- 
mander of the world, with peace for his watchword. Why should he not 
be elected? What reason has any lover of his country for not voting for 


If there is a man among you who would blot from the page of history 
the story of our great achievements, let such a man say, "I had no share 
in those triumphs; I vote against General Grant." If there is a man among 
you that would compel the Armies of the Potomac, of the James, of the 
Tennessee, to be again gathered and to surrender as prisoners of war to 
Lee, Johnston, Beauregard, and Pillow, let him vote against General Grant. 
If there is a man among you who would reverse the order of history and 
bring upon you a reproach and shame never before visited upon a nation 
of the earth, would have a commander of the United States armies deliver 
up his sword, humbly bowing before the rebel commanders, let that man 
vote against Grant, and never again call himself an American citizen. If 
there is a man among you who would desire to see, whose eyeballs would 
not burn like fire to see upon the portico of the capital, Lee, Preston, and 
Pillow, with the Confederate army around them; if there is a man who 
would see this and would see them win in the New York convention the 
battles they lost in the South, let such a man vote against Grant and go to 
Washington on the 4th of March next and behold the Government turned 
over to the rebels. 

Although so wrenched and exhausted by asthma that he could 
sit up only a portion of the day, he spoke in Cleveland on October 
9, more especially to foreign-born voters. 

His address occupied only about thirty-five minutes, but his 
earnestness viras irresistible. Several times during the delivery, 
paroxysms of asthma so choked him that he was compelled to 
support himself from falling by a small table standing near ; yet, 
to the astonishment of the great audience, he took no notice of these 
attacks, but was lost in the effort to convince his hearers that it was 
the solemn duty of every citizen to vote for Grant. Stopping to 
rest a moment, he requested the presiding officer to read Lincoln's 
Gettysburg speech. At its conclusion he sprang forward and ex- 
claimed : 

That is the voice of God speaking through the lips of Abraham Lincoln! 
Let that noble speech reach the extremities of this great crowd. I mean 
that you shall hear it; I mean that you shall adopt its sentiment and de- 
clare yourselves now. You hear the voice of Father Abraham here to-night. 
Did he die in vain? Shall we not dedicate ourselves to the work he left 
unfinished? Let us here, every one, with uplifted hand, declare before Al- 
mighty God that the precious gift of this great heritage, consecrated in the 
blood of our soldiers, shall never perish from the earth! Now [uplifting 
his hands] all hands to God! I SWEAR IT! 

The audience, with uplifted hands, rose and took the oath with 
Stanton — swore to vote for Grant and dedicate their efforts to the 
task left unfinished by the martyred Lincoln ! It was a sensational 
and heroic scene, and created a wide and profound impression. 


A particularly hard campaign was being waged against General 
R. C. Schenck, a candidate for reelection to Congress, so Stanton 
addressed a throng of people in his behalf at Carlisle, Ohio. Speak- 
ing of the plan of repudiating the war debt, which some of his op- 
ponents had advocated, he said : 

Now, talk to such people about interest and about repudiation! Get the 
financiers of Wall Street, or any other street outside of Hades to cipher 
up how much the widow's son was worth; how much the father's boy was 
worth! If we repudiate, let us repudiate all. Let us level the graves of our 
dead soldiers; let us blot their memories from the family Bible; let us not 
have them prayed for at the fireside, nor in the church, nor remember them 
on the days of their birth, nor the days that are still held sacred all over 
the land! 

At Pittsburg, on October 29, he met an ovation. The city 
turned out en masse to welcome him. His speech, occiipying forty- 
five minutes, aroused the greatest enthusiasm. 

From Pittsburg he hastened to Philadelphia to reply to Sey- 
mour's closing effort, which he did on Saturday, October 31. That 
speech, as interesting reading as these pages contain, is in part, as 
follows : 

Governor Seymour has said that our great war expenditures were un- 
reasonable, yet he shows no other way in which the Rebellion could have 
been put down. The inference, therefore, is irresistible that he desired 
that the Rebellion should not be put down, and that every drop of blood 
shed, and every dollar expended he regrets as a waste and extravagance on 
the part of the Government. 

What item of the three billions of money expended to put down this 
Rebellion has Seymour shown, orpretended to show, was unreasonable? He 
has indeed specified one item, one solitary item — misconduct of the Sec- 
retary of War. To find anything else I have performed the task — and still 
live — of reading all of his speeches. 

Now what was the policy of the Secretary of War — for his policy and 
that of Horatio Seymour were directly and diametrically opposed to each 
other? It was to pursue the enemy to the last extremity; it was to smite 
him wherever he was to be found; by day and by night it was to carry 
forward the flag of the United States and to trample under foot the flag of 
the rebels; to stand by Abraham Lincoln to the last; by day and by night 
to be at his side, to uphold his arms, to encourage him in his efforts toward 
the cause of liberty, to strengthen him and support him in his hostility to 
the enemy, and, above all, to convince him that upon the rock of emanci- 
pation we must build our safety. 

That was the policy of the Secretary of War! It is true, as Horatio 
Seymour declares, that if that policy had not been pursued, this war would 


have been brought to a speedier close. But how? By the overthrow of the 
Government of the United States, by the triumph of the rebels, by the 
success of treason, by the destruction of the cause of liberty in this land 
and all over the earth. And by the blessing of God, Seymour's policy was 
not adopted and mine was. 

As to the accusations against the Secretary of War, I rejoice in them. 
I would bind them upon the brows of my children, as did the Jews of old, 
and would leave them no other fortune than to have written on my 
tomb: "This man fought the rebels to the last extremity." 

But it is very unkind of Horatio Seymour to accuse the Secretary 
of War. He has been traveling upon the Secretary's pass for two years — 
the only certificate of character he ever had — the one which has been 
paraded by every copperhead press in the land, signed "Edwin M. Stanton." 
And now it behooves me to give some explanation of that certificate. I 
did under the circumstance just what you would have done and just as loyal 
men will do next Tuesday if they vote for Seymour — made a mistake! 

I will read to you the certificates. The first is dated on the 15th of 
June. It was in these words: 

"To Governor Seymour: The President directs me to return his thanks, 
with those of the Department, for your prompt response." 

That was upon the 15th day of June, 18G3. Lee, with his army 100,000 
strong, was moving upon the free States and marching to invade Pennsyl- 
vania. We had forces equal, perhaps, in numbers; we had confidence in our 
troops; but we were not willing to run any risk that could be provided 

On the morning of the 15th day of June the Secretary of War wrote 
a telegram to the governor of New Jersey; also to the governor of Pennsyl- 
vania, and to the governors of all the loyal States, asking if they had troops, 
militia or others, that were available, that could be forwarded to Washing- 
ton; because if we had these troops, veterans and trained soldiers could be 
withdrawn from the garrisons and sent to the front. On that same day 
Horatio Seymour replied that he had some troops of organized militia and 
without delay would forward them to Washington. 

On the evening of that day, well do I remember, Abraham Lincoln and 
I sat side by side in the corner of the room where I saw so many anxious 
beats of his great heart. We were looking over the chances of the conflict. 
We knew that the critical hour was about to strike on the clock of time, 
and we looked over all to see whether our work was done; to see whether 
there was any point where we could strengthen the army, to insure victory 
or avert disaster. Telegrams came. We looked over them, and among 
them was a despatch from Governor Seymour promising that he would 
quickly forward troops. Why did that excite surprise? Why did it call for 
thanks from the President? To Governor Tod he explained, when the 
Governor asked him, "Why is it you thank a copperhead governor and 
render no thanks to loyal governors?" "Because they do not need it and 
Seymour does!" 

On that night, as we sat with our hearts heavy, considering the question 
as to whether our duty was done, and the approaching issue of the day, 
Mr. Lincoln said, after expressing his surprise that Governor Seymour was 


about to change the course he was pursuing toward the Government: "I 
think we ought to make some acknowledgment." I said, "I think so too," 
and so that telegram was written. It was to encourage a faint-hearted gov- 
ernor, placed by accident at the head of the greatest State of the Union, and 
to induce him to join us in laboring for the laational cause. 

A week from that time passed. On the 21st of June, stimulated by the 
patriotic ardor of the citizens of New York, unable to resist the pressure that 
they were making upon him in the hour when the enemy were already 
marching upon free soil, a few regiments came, and what was done? 
Another note of thanks was written to Governor Seymour in these words: 
"Dear Sir: 

"I cannot forbear to express to you the deep obligation I feel for the 
prompt and candid support you have given the Government in the present 

"Edwin M. Stanton." 

At that time and at that hour I would have engaged to support Seymour 
against all men on the earth, because I thought he had sacrificed party 
spirit and strong prejudice, and that he was an instance where conscience 
and patriotism had burst the bonds of party and soared to a loftier sphere. 
This was on the 21st of June. Within ten days after that Horatio Seymour 
stood in Cooper Institute denouncing the Government, discouraging the de- 
fenders of the flag, while Meade was mowing down rebels on the blood-red 
hills of Gettysburg and Grant was taking the surrender of 35,000 rebels at 

I admit I gave this pass that Governor Seymour has been traveling 
on for two years, but behold Seymour's change! Look at these dates; they 
show exactly the conduct of Seymour. He was appealed to on the 15th of 
June; he answered on the 21st of June, and on the 4th of July he was at 
Cooper Institute denouncing the draft, and pleading for the enemy! 

Upon the 4th of July, 1863, notwithstanding the conduct of Horatio 
Seymour, the sun of our country's glory burst forth in splendor through the 
dark clouds of Rebellion that had for some time overshadowed it, and the 
baleful exclamations of treason were scattered. 

Do your duty next Tuesday, and the sun of our political glory will 
shine as brightly as it shone on the day of the 4th of July at Vicksburg and 
at Gettysburg. 

Vote against Grant and darkness and gloom will settle over this country 
— like the pall of midnight will settle deeper and deeper over the land, over 
its prosperity, over the elements of national honor, over the elements of 
national strength — and the greatest calamity that ever befell the people will 
be upon us. 

May Divine Providence avert the catastrophe! 



At the close of the campaign (on November 8, 1868) Stanton 
wrote the following to his dearest friend, Peter H. Waston, at Ash- 
tabula, Ohio: 

On Monday evening I reached home in a state of great exhaustion from 
the fatigue and excitement of two vast meetings, one at Pittsburg, the 
other at Philadelphia. The Philadelphia reception would have been highly 
gratifying to a person who prizes such displays. The monster building, the 
Academy of Music, was jammed from roof to foundation by a throng of 
ladies and gentlemen and thousands were outside, waiting for an address 
to them. An increased vote of 5,000 in that city, and nearly 9,000 in Pitts- 
burg shows that the throttling of Seymour did not prejudice our cause, and 
he was pretty thoroughly skinned from snout to tail. 

I found Mrs. Stanton at home in about the same health as when I left 
her. The rest of my family are well, and my own health and strength im- 

I had written this far when your note informing me of the accident that 
had happened to you by the explosion of the silicate of soda was brought in. 
I hope you will not, my dear friend, give a moment's notice or care con- 
cerning me, but think only of yourself and recovery. The accident will not, 
I hope, interfere with your prospects concerning a patent. As I am now at 
home, and do not- design any other absence, you can refer Stoughton to 
me for any aid that may be required and I may happen to be competent to 
give. This accident shows that we are complements to each other, both 
being better together than alone, for I would not have allowed you to run 
any risks, and you would have cured me if I could have stayed at Ashta- 
bula instead of going to Cincinnati. 

While J. W. Draper, the noted historian and scientist, was pre- 
paring his "History of the Rebellion," he asked to be supplied with 
facts for incorporation therein which would vindicate Stanton's ad- 
ministration. Stanton replied, on November 20, 1868: 

While I assent to your maxim that a public officer owes something to 
himself in seeing that the truth is told concerning his acts, yet I have never 
been able to overcome the feeling that in a great contest like ours, involving 
the life of a nation and the welfare of a race, merely individual action is too 


insignificant to waste time and labor in its vindication. Hence I have felt 
that it was better to bear in silence what might easily be answered or re- 
pelled without regard to the source or motive of the accusation. 

It is my purpose to devote a few weeks before reentering actively upon 
professional labors to the arrangement of such papers as appear worthy of 
preservation; and whatever information they contain, or I possess, shall be 
at your service. 

Unfortunately he made no such assortment of his papers for 
Professor Draper or any one else. Indeed he left very few papers 
valuable or otherwise. 

A little later, on January 3, 1869, he wrote to Mr. Watson that 
he "had been better than usual the last two days," so that he "hoped 
to get through the winter without any more violent paroxysms of 
asthma." A week afterward, on January 10, mentioning politics 
with some freedom, he wrote thus to Mr. Watson : 

I am glad to learn that your patent was issued, and I hope it is now in 
your possession secure against official perils. I hope you reached home in 
time to meet your boys, and have a full family assembly. My family are as 
you left them; you are still the theme of our kindest thoughts and converse. 
Bessie [Stanton's daughter] is anxious to be enlightened on several scien- 
tific points which she insists no one understands but you. 

Politics is becoming exciting. You have doubtless noted that the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad, Tom Scott, and Cameron, have selected a railroad at- 
torney [John Scott, for ten years solicitor of the Pennsylvania Railroad] 
as senator from Pennsylvania. Morrill of Maine is beaten in caucus by 
Hannibal Hamlin, and Fessenden reads the handwriting on the wall. It is 
said that Morrill was beaten chiefly by Fessenden's support of him.* 

Morgan [Edwin D. Morgan of New York] will be defeated; who will 
win among his opponents is uncertain. The election is said to be substan- 
tially at auction. 

You and I have no lot or part in all these schemes, and can only lament 
their existence without power to avert their evils, and mourn such results 
after all the great national and patriotic sacrifices we have witnessed and 

My health continues to improve, and I am busy with the cases, but 
straitened for money. Can you do anything for me, or must I look else- 

Mr. Watson happened to be with Stillman Witt of Cleveland 
when the foregoing request for aid was received, and permitted him 
to read it. Mr. Witt, for himself and associated with Amasa Stone. 

*William P. Fessenden abandoned his party during the trial of Presi 
dent Johnson and voted with the Democrats against impeachment. 


had been a large railway contractor and a great admirer of Stanton. 
He handed back the letter with a draft for five thousand dollars 
payable to Stanton's order. The aid, supposed by Stanton to be a 
loan, was thus acknowledged : 

Washington, D. C, January 29, 1869. 
My dear Friend: 

Your note enclosing Mr. Witt's draft for $5,000 received here while I 
was at Wheeling trying a land case. My health had very much improved. 
I was as strong and vigorous as at any time within two years. The case 
involved lands and mines to the extent of two millions and I never made an 
argument with more ease and effect and success. But a journey across the 
mountains has for years been followed by sickness and special circum- 
stances contributed this time so that I have been without voice from sore 
throat and without breath from spasms of asthma that prevented me from 
acknowledging Mr. Witt's letter. It is enclosed with a note for his advance 
and I will trouble you to give them to him or send them by mail as soon as 

The family is as well as usual. I am glad to hear from Mrs. Watson 
and the children. 

In Mr. Witt's letter you will find the political news. Seward will not 
get into the cabinet but some think it will be very Sewardish. I suppose 
you have seen Bank's little romance. It is got up by a joint stock company 
in the apprehension of my going into the cabinet, although I would rather 
burn my arm off to the socket. Whether Grant has any stock in it for the 
purpose of excusing him from the compliment of an offer to me, opinions 

I care nothing about it, and, having repelled the imputation of ever 
having thought Banks fit for a military command by a public denial, I shall 
leave the matter where it is. The whole story is simply this, as you may 
remember: While Grant was besieging Vicksburg, Banks, with a large 
force, was fiddling away at Port Hudson. There was no confidence in his 
capacity or success. Mr. Lincoln, Halleck, and Grant believed that if Vicks- 
burg were taken. Port Hudson would fall, and Grant wanted Banks' troops. 
They were ordered to him but did not go, for Banks held on to them. Now 
Banks says he was senior to Grant and would have had the command if he 
had gone to Vicksburg, and the order to go there with his troops is what he 
calls superseding Grant; but the law* expressly authorized the President to 
give the command to a junior — it was often done — and Mr. Lincoln meant 
to do it as soon as Banks got to Vicksburg, but thought it best to wait until 
the troops got there. Banks no doubt suspected that, and did not budge 
from Port Hudson, which fell as soon as Vicksburg was taken. 

Yours truly, 
P. H. Watson, Esq. Edwin M. Stanton. 

*See act approved April 4, 1862, giving the President power, when two 
or more officers of like grade were operating in the same field, to designate 
the commander, regardless of rank. 


Howard P. Eells of Cleveland, who administered the Witt es- 
tate, says Stanton's note and grateful letter of acknowledgment 
were destroyed and that Mr. Witt's gift was intended to remain an 
unrecorded secret — a real tribute of gratitude and friendship. 

The "land case" involving two million dollars, mentioned in 
the above letter, covered a tract of ten thousand, three hundred and 
seventy-five acres of timber underlaid with cannel coal in Kanawha 
County, West Virginia. Stanton appeared for R. M. T. Hunter and 
others, who were plaintiffs in a very complicated case. He men- 
tions that he "never made an argument with more ease and effect 
and success" — a remarkable statement, in view of his shattered and 
feeble condition. Judge Thayer Melvin of Wheeling says : 

When Mr. Stanton appeared to argue the Kanawha case, I was pained 
and disappointed. I had conceived him to be an immense, burly, rough, and 
resistless man, full of health and power and ready for any contest or emer- 
gency. Instead of my ideal, there came in, walking slowly and wearily, a 
feeble and exhausted invalid, whose death-like pallor shocked all beholders. 
His argument was delivered in low conversational style, but with wonderful 
clearness, directness, and completeness. I think that was his last trip over 
the mountains, and some believed then that he would not live to get out of 
the city. All who saw him were sad. Certainly death seemed near. 

"I had tea with Mr. Stanton and his son Eddie at the McLure 
House in Wheeling at the close of the Kanawha argument," says 
William Stanton Buchanan, then residing in Wheeling. "I told 
him that he was failing very fast. He did not seem surprised or 
frightened, but simply answered: 'Do you think so, William?' I 
did, indeed, think so, for he was a wreck. I hardly see how he with- 
stood the journey home." 

The ensuing exhaustion was so severe and long-continued that 
for some time he shared the fear of his friends that perhaps his con- 
dition was really serious. While entertaining this feeling he re- 
solved to be prepared for the worst, and sent for Dr. William Spar- 
row of Alexandria, Virginia, to baptize him. He also requested 
General E. D. Townsend to come and discuss the personnel of the 
executors of his will as well as the most available manner of dis- 
posing of his property, and a place of burial. 

After this he rallied considerably, and on June 11, 1869, wrote 
to Mr. Watson a "family letter" of some length in which occurs 
this paragraph: 


Since you were here the state of my health has greatly fluctuated — being 
sometimes worse and seldom better until recently. A decided improvement 
has now taken place. Although my strength is not fully regained, my ap- 
petite and sleep have much improved, and, with the advancing season, I am 
growing stronger and hope now for a full recovery. 

Mrs. Stanton and Dr. Barnes are striving to get me away from Wash- 
ington during the hot weather, but I am resisting and would much prefer to 
stay at home. I do not know how the contest will end. 

Immediately following the date of this letter a serious decline 
set in and the "contest" referred to ended on July 19, by advice of 
Dr. Barnes, in drafting his will. On July 25, Dr. Barnes ordered 
him to depart for the Rocky Mountains. The journey seemed too 
formidable and too costly, so he compromised by leaving on August 
4 for Mount Wachusett, Massachusetts. 

Receiving there no apparent benefit, he proceeded to Wolfboro, 
New Hampshire, whence a New York correspondent wrote that he 
"seemed like a wreck, and did little more than sit on the piazza and 
watch the children at play, in strange and pitiful contrast to the sur- 
rounding vivacity." 

About the middle of September he went by invitation to Pine 
Bluiif, the breezy seaside home of his friend Samuel Hooper, at 
Cotuit on the coast of Cape Cod. There he revived from a relapse 
which would have terminated fatally had he remained in Washing- 

"This is a sweet oasis," he wrote to James M. Ashley of To- 
ledo; "my life has been prolonged by its pure air and fresh sur- 
roundings. I thank God for the kindness of my friends." His fi- 
nances were so straitened that without an invitation like that from 
Mr. Hooper, or a cash advance from one like Mr. Witt, he would 
have been unable to leave Washington for any considerable time ; 
hence the fervent expression of gratitude for the "kindness of his 

Returning in the early autumn, he was more cheerful but really 
weaker and more broken down than before. While thus helpless 
physically and financially, he wrote the following sad communica- 
tion, the very last of any length penned by his own hand : 

Washington, November 25, 1869. 
My dear Friend: 

Contrary to my hope when I last saw you, my health was not restored 
so that I could engage in business for a livelihood. My strength rapidly 
declined in the summer, and with reluctance I was compelled to leave home. 


Some months on the mountains and seashore of New England, with ab- 
solute rest, effected some improvement, and I am now better than for the 
last twelve months, and am steadily but slowly improving. 

My medical advisers, everywhere, enjoin abstinence from any employ- 
ment taxing my physical strength, so that I have been forced to decline 
numerous professional engagements that, had I been strong enough, would 
have provided for my necessities. 

I am entirely out of money. Traveling, educating, and providing for 
my children, and other necessary expenditures, have quite exhausted my 
last winter's supply furnished by Mr. Witt's kindness, so that I am com- 
pelled to apply to you for aid. I know you will be glad to aid me if in 
your power. I have valuable property here and in Ohio, and on the Mo- 
nongahela, not encumbered, but unproductive. I have not been able to give 
my attention towards disposing of it, and my protracted and serious illness 
has cut off my professional supplies.* 

Please let me know whether you can help me or not. Five thousand 
dollars would carry me through another year; even less would drive the 
wolf from the door. 

With kindest regards to you and Mrs. Watson and the children, I re- 

Ever yours, 
P. H. Watson, Esq. Edwin M. Stanton. 

On December 12, after arguing the famous case of Whitney vs. 
Mowry before Justice Swayne, who came to Stanton's residence to 
sit in chambers, he suffered a severe relapse. During this illness, 
James M. Ashley of Ohio telegraphed to General T. M. Vincent an 
expression of solicitude and asked for information concerning Stan- 
ton's health. As the message was one of unusual cordiality, Gen- 
eral Vincent handed it to Stanton at his house. He exclaimed : 
"That's from my good friend Ashley ; I myself will answer it." 

He called for pen and paper but was unable to write a sentence 
— hardly a word, in fact. Dropping the pen and turning to General 
Vincent, he observed, with trembling voice and tearful eyes : "I 
can't do it ; I am used up." 

In the meantime Justice R. C. Grier had informed Stanton that 
he intended to retire under the act of April, 1869, and intimated that 

*Says Charles A. Dana: "Less than a month before his death he re- 
ceived a large retainer from Pennsylvania. In reply he asked for time, say- 
ing he was not ready to appear in court in so important a suit. He was 
informed that delay was impossible, to go ahead at once. Distressed as he 
was for money, he returned the retainer, as he was too conscientious to 
accept a fee which he thought he could not fully earn." 


if his dear old friend, now feeble in body and purse, desired to be his 
successor, he would be happy to time his resignation agreeably to 
that end. 

No suggestion was ever more gratefully received. Broken 
health, lack of ready money, failure of the impeachment, vehement 
attacks upon reconstruction by some of his former friends, eleven 
votes in the Senate and twenty-five in the House against even the 
cheap reward of thanks for his great services, all combined to pro- 
duce extreme mental anguish. Hence the possibility of becoming a 
part of the highest court in the world was a source of keen satis- 

An appropriate interjection here is that of the fact that when 
Chief-Justice Taney died in the autumn of 1864, Bishop Simpson, 
Governor O. P. Morton, General J. K. Moorhead, Governor John A. 
Andrew, and others besought Lincoln to appoint Stanton to the va- 
cant position. "If Mr. Stanton can find a man he himself will trust 
as secretary of war, I'll do it," said Lincoln to Bishop Simpson. 
Stanton knew of no such man ; and S. P. Chase, who was favored by 
Stanton, was appointed. 

President Grant indicated that, should nothing unexpected in- 
tervene, Stanton would be appointed to succeed Justice Grier. How- 
ever, some days passed without any announcement, for reasons best 
given by the late Senator M. H. Carpenter of Wisconsin, in a speech 
in the Senate on June 4, 1872, in part as follows : 

I had charge of a bill which we passed for the reconstruction of the 
legislature of Georgia, after the colored members had been expelled. We 
sat late at night to pass it. At about half-past eleven, while in my seat, it 
occurred to me that something might be done to insure the appointment of 
Mr. Stanton as judge of the Supreme Court. It had been expected by 
many of us, and yet his nomination did not come. I then and there drew 
up a letter for the President, recommending Mr. Stanton to be appointed 
judge of that court. I took it around the chamber and in less than twenty 
minutes obtained thirty-seven signatures of Republican senators.* That 
was Friday night, and before leaving the Senate Chamber I agreed with the 
Senator from Michigan [Mr. Chandler] to meet at the White House the 
following morning, Saturday, at 10 o'clock to present the letter to the 

The next morning I rode to Mr. Stanton's and showed him the letter, 
and as he glanced over it the tears started down his cheeks. He said not 
a word. He did not even say "thank you." Witnessing the depth of his 
emotion I bowed myself out, telling him that I was going to present it to 
the President. 

♦Headed by Vice-President Colfax. 


I carried it to the President and found the Senator from Michigan with 
the President, awaiting me. Said the President: "I am delighted to have 
that letter; I have desired to appoint Mr. Stanton to that place, and yet, in 
consequence of his having been secretary of war and so prominent in the 
recent political strife, I have doubted whether it would answer to make him 
Judge; that indorsement is all I want; you go to Mr. Stanton's house and 
tell him his name will be sent to the Senate Monday morning." 

This was Saturday. I then drove back to Mr. Stanton's house and told 
him what the President had said. Mr. Stanton's first reply was: "The kind- 
ness of General Grant — it is perfectly characteristic of him — will do more 
to cure me than the skill of all the doctors." 

In the House one hundred and eighteen Republicans signed 
a similar petition, and next day, on Sunday, President Grant, accom- 
panied by Vice-President Colfax, called to say to Mr. Stanton in 
person that the appointment would be made on the following day. 
It was sent to the Senate on Monday, December 20, and confirmed 
an hour later, after words of kind and tender endorsement, by a vote 
of forty-six to eleven. 

Notice of confirmation was immediately returned to the White 
House, and the commission would have been transmitted to Stanton 
the same day if President Grant had been satisfied that he possessed 
authority to habilitate a justice in the absence of a vacancy — Mr. 
Justice Grier's resignation having been drawn to take efifect on the 
first of February following.* 

During the afternoon of the 20th — a cold, damp, and windy 
day — Stanton arose from his bed, and, in spite of the protests of his 
physician and the members of his family, drove to the White House 
to return the President's call and to thank him personally for the 

Thoroughly muffled in heavy wraps, looking more dead than 
alive, he tottered to the President's room, supported by Adjutant- 
General Townsend. Much surprised, Grant stepped forward rapidly 
to greet his visitor, who grasped him with both hands, but could 
utter scarcely a word. Trembling lips and suffused eyes, however, 

*"The circumstances of the appointment of Mr. Stanton were very re- 
markable. Mr. Justice Grier had sent in his resig^nation to retire on Febru- 
ary 1. Mr. Stanton was nominated, confirmed, commissioned, and ready 
to take his seat; then sickened, died, and was buried, all before the first day 
of February. On that day good old Justice Grier returned, took his seat on 
the bench and helped to decide causes after his successor had been ap- 
pointed, commissioned, and was dead and buried." — Speech of Senator M. 
H. Carpenter, 


more eloquently than words, told the dying man's story of apprecia- 
tion and gratitude. He had made the following acknowledgment 
in writing; but instead of sending it, visited Grant in person, as 
stated : 

Dear Sir: 

I beg you to accept my thanks for your nomination of me as one of the 
associate justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is the only 
public office I ever desired and I accept it with great pleasure. 

The appointment affords me the more pleasure coming from you, with 
whom for several years I have had personal and official relations such as 
seldom exist among men. 

It will be my aim so long as life and health permit to perform the 
solemn duties of the office to which you have appointed me with diligence, 
impartiality, and integrity. 

I have the honor to be truly your friend. 
The President. Edwin M. Stanton. 

On the 22d the President became convinced that there were no 
inhibiting circumstances and signed the commission ; but, as if to 
complete a tragedy, Stanton never saw it. The relapse brought on 
by his visit to the White House had already reached both heart 
and brain, obscuring all earthly facts and faculties with the haze of 
approaching death. 

After the burial. Grant sent the commission to Mrs. Stanton, 
accompanied by a warm tribute to her husband's "ability, integrity, 
patriotism, and services." 


The attending physician did not apprehend immediately fatal 
results from the relapse brought on by the visit to Grant on the 20th. 
To Mrs. Stanton's anxious inquiries he replied that her husband 
would "certainly rally, as his mind was clear and active and his 
interest in public affairs unabated." 

On the evening of December 23, 1869, after Dr. Barnes had de- 
parted, the family retired as usual, leaving Stanton in care of his 
nurse, David Jones. An hour later Jones was startled by extreme 
paroxysmal respiration in his patient and aroused the household. 
Dr. Barnes was brought back at once, and, discovering impending 
dissolution, sent for the Reverend Thomas A. Starkey, rector of 
Epiphany Church. Between the ensuing convulsions Stanton ex- 
pressed the belief that he would recover. Dr. Barnes, however, was 
convinced to the contrary, and the rector chanted the solemn service 
for the dying at 2 o'clock in the morning. At 4 o'clock, surrounded 
by his entire household (which included the servants, Nurse Jones, 
Miss Bowie, Dr. Barnes, and the Reverend Mr. Starkey), having 
been in a semi-comatose condition for a time, the weary Titan 
breathed his last in painless peace. 

The following day was the 25th of December. Thus, while the 
great War Minister lay wrapped in the gloomy trappings of death, 
all about him glowed the illuminations, festivities, and joys of 
Christmastide ! 

On the 26th General E. D. Townsend and General Thomas M. 
Vincent sat the night out by the side of the dead, so that those who 
never failed him in life had the honor of keeping the last vigil in 

In accordance with his wish that no display whatever be per- 
mitted at his funeral, the plan of the United States Senate and the 
request of the House of Representatives for a State funeral were 
(i^nied. No formal guard of honor was about the bier, no soldiers 

DEATH 409 


or marines in front of the house, nothing save drawn curtains and 
sad faces indicated anything out of the ordinary in the Stanton 

Previous to closing the casket and bringing it down to the 
parlor for the funeral, which occurred on the 27th, a few of those 
who had been most intimate with the deceased were permitted to 
have a last look at the strong but kindly features, now "scarred by 
the crooked autograph of pain."* 

The simplest form of the Episcopal burial services was then 
read by the Reverend Mr. Starkey, assisted by the Reverend Dr. 
Pinckney and the venerable William Sparrow, after which a cor- 
poral, a sergeant, and eight privates of Battery F, Fifth Artillery, in 
full uniform, bore the cofifin to the hearse and attended it to the 
cemetery. Secretary of War Belknap, Postmaster-General J. A. J. 
Creswell, United States Senators M. H. Carpenter, Charles Sumner, 
Zachariah Chandler, and George F. Edmunds, Representatives 
Judd and Hooper, Associate-Justice Swayne, Justice D. K. Cartter, 
Generals J. K. Barnes, Thomas T. Eckert, and E. D. Townsend, and 
the Honorable Edwards Pierrepont acted as pall-bearers. 

Notwithstanding its simplicity, the funeral was imposing. Pres- 
ident Grant and his official household, Vice-President Colfax and his 
retinue, the justices of the United States Supreme Courtt in a body; 
all officers of the army and navy in and about Washington in full 
uniform ; the officers of the War Department and of the District of 
Columbia ; delegations from patriotic bodies in Philadelphia, Balti- 
more, New York, and Pittsburg; special delegations representing 
the Union League ; senators and representatives in Congress in sep- 
arate bodies ; and Federal officials as well as diplomats and distin- 

*"As the casket was about to be closed," says Major A. E. H. Johnson, 
"several senators expressed a desire to possess a lock of the great War 
Minister's hair, and I too wanted one. Thereupon Surgeon-General Barnes, 
taking a pair of small scissors from his pocket, lifted the heroic head of the 
sleeping tyrant and clipped a compact curl from the back of it, which he 
enclosed in a white envelope and slipped into an inner pouch of his mili- 
tary coat. I grieve to say that I did not secure a part of it, and I never 
knew what became of this precious memento, snatched from the grave, of 
the most powerful, wilful, fearless, and disinterested patriot who ever lived 
on this continent." 

tjustice Grier had the unique experience of attending, in his official 
capacity, the funeral of his own successor. 


guished persons generally, gathered in front of the house and waited 
through the ceremony in a cold, drizzling rain in order to join the 
procession to Oak Hill Cemetery,* overlooking the Potomac River. 
The hearse was drawn by four gray horses draped in black and the 
coffin and the grave were heaped with floral tributes. 

And so the most gigantic and invincible patriot of the age, 
amidst censure, poverty, and humiliation, wrecked by superhuman 
labors to save his country, lay down to rest ! 

* "When he requested me to act as one of his executors," says Gen- 
eral E. D. Townsend, "Mr. Stanton said that he wished to be buried in 
Steubenville, where he was born, and that he had arranged in that city the 
spot in which his body was to lie. I never knew why his wish was disre- 
garded and think that Mrs. Stanton may not have understood that he had 
expressed any desire as to his final resting-place." 

John McCracken of Steubenville, says: "The last time he was in Steu- 
benville, in September, 1868, Mr. Stanton visited the cemetery and on re- 
turning came to my office much affected. Calling for the cemetery plat, he 
made a mark at a certain place on his lot, saying: 'There, John, is where I 
shall lie at last.'" 


Stanton's life closed amidst extremely straitened and humiliat- 
ing circumstances. Mrs. Stanton was wasting away with consump- 
tion and several times, notwithstanding the skill and persistency of 
Surgeon-General Barnes, was expected to precede her husband to 
the grave. He himself was unable to earn, and, having no money,* 
received the necessary medicine for himself and wife from the hos- 
pital stores of the War Department through the Surgeon-General, 
whose long-continued professional services were likewise without 

The estate was settled without controversy under a will drawn 
with his own hand, according to family custom for nearly two cen- 
turies, as follows : 

I, EDWIN M. STANTON of Washington, do make, publish, and de- 
clare this writing as and for my last will and testament, thereby revoking 
and annulling all other wills by me heretofore made. 

1st. I direct all my just debts to be paid. 

2d. The surplus of my estate (except as hereinafter expressed) real, 
personal, and mixed, and all my goods, chattels, moneys, and effects not 
otherwise herein disposed of, wheresoever situated, shall be divided as 

3d. I give, devise, and bequeath two-thirds thereof to my wife Ellen 
H. Stanton and her heirs forever to her sole use and behoof in fee simple, 
including in this bequest my plate and household furniture, charged with 
two-thirds of my debts. 

♦Edwards Pierrepont, at a dinner in New York, mentioned Stanton's 
financial extremities as a matter deserving public attention. In a few 
moments a testimonial gift of $100,000 was subscribed and Mr. Pierrepont 
selected to present it in person. Stanton, who was found in bed, wept tears 
of gratitude over the generosity of his friends, but, in words that were 
scarcely equal to a whisper on account of the depth of his emotion, said he 
99uld "accept no gratuities." 


4th. The remaining one-third of my estate I give, devise, and bequeath 
to my executors in trust for the use of my mother (charged with the pay- 
ment of one-third of my debts) for the term of her natural life, and at her 
death the surplus, if there be any, to be equally divided between my three 
youngest children or the survivor of them as their mother may appoint; or 
she may apportion and distribute it according to her own judgment of their 
necessities and merits. One-fourth of my law-books I give to my son 

I give my executors, or a majority of them, or a majority of the sur- 
vivors, power to sell or rent or otherwise dispose of or convert to my 
mother's use, and to invest or reinvest according to their discretion. 

I appoint my friend Peter H. Watson of Ashtabula; the Honorable 
Andrew Wylie and E. D. Townsend of Washington, and my wife Ellen, 
executors of this my last will and testament. 

Edwin M. Stanton. 

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by Edwin M. Stanton as his 
last will, which we attest as subscribing witnesses at his request in his 
presence and the presence of each other, this 19th day of July, 1869. 

R. R. S. Harrison, 
George T. Chapman, 
J. K. Barnes. 

Like the traditional Stanton will, the foregoing is exceptional 
for clearness and brevity. It is likewise notable for bequeathing 
one-third of his entire estate to his aged mother, and nothing, not 
even a portion of his law library,* to his oldest son, Edwin, who 
was also a lawyer. 

The court appointed as appraisers General J. K. Barnes and 
General Thomas M. Vincent, who listed the property of the estate 
so as to enable the executors to turn over one-third to Stanton's 
mother and two-thirds to his widow. The Steubenville house sold 
for $7,500 ; the K Street house in Washington for $41,000 ; other 
property for something like $5,000 ; Congress voted to Mrs. Stanton 
a sum equal to the annual salary of an associate justice — $5,000 — 
and there was $10,000 life insurance, which was promptly paid. 

Besides, after Stanton's death, a testimonial fund of $100,000 
was raised, mostly in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Chi- 

*R. T. Hunt of Pittsburg, who settled the affairs of Shaler, Stanton, 
and Umbstaetter and delivered the Stanton library and papers in Washing- 
ton says: "Mr. Stanton had a fine library and especially a large and a very 
valuable collection of English reports. For several years he spent all his 
surplus earnings in buying anything that would help him in the great cases, 
in which he appeared before the United States Supreme Court." 


cago, which sum was curtailed a little, however, by debts contracted 
in Pittsburg in 1867 and by two or more failures among subscribers. 
Thus, although he himself died in financial distress, his family 
v/as placed in permanent comfort. 


No man in American history has been so thoroughly misunder- 
stood as Stanton. Much as he loved and trusted certain men, he 
really trusted no man fully. One friend or counselor was permitted 
to know all about this or that matter, and another all about some- 
thing else ; but he was completely confidential with no two persons 
on the same subject. Each man who knew him at all intimately 
knew things not known to any one else, and thus arose the many 
differing views which, however, are all essential to the final picture 
which shall have some approach to completeness and correctness. 

Annie Collier Meredith of Omaha, who was reared with him, 

Mr. Stanton was an angel in his family and to the weak and poor, but 
the very fury in the pursuit of his purposes among men. The exhibition of 
his tremendous energy sometimes injured the feelings of his best friends; 
but he always made amends afterwards and was grieved over the havoc that 
had been wrought. One of my childhood tasks was to recite Longfellow's 
"Psalm of Life" for him. He liked the verse, 

"Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant? 
Let the dead Past bury its dead! 
Act, act in the living Present! 
Heart within and God o'erhead!" 
When I had finished he would invariably say, in his impetuous way, 
"Say it again; please do." Then he would look thoughtful and remain quiet 
for some time. 

An old friend, Davison Filson of Steubenville, Ohio, contrib- 
utes this : 

When I was carrying on house and sign painting here, I did all of Mr. 
Stanton's work in that line. He was not a man to dicker and try to get his 
work done cheap. He never asked me what a thing would cost, but ex- 
plained what he wanted and then, "Do it and make out your bill." He 
never objected to or delayed paying a bill. He was a man of business — 
full to over-flowing all the time, scarcely taking time for his meals. You 


could never catch him napping. He was always wide awake, and true to his 
convictions to a dot. When court called he was there and ready with his 
cases, all of them. In his house I have often been, and a more pleasant 
home did not exist — all mildness; but when he was among men he was 
another creature, exerting his great powers, and was the leader. When he 
was a boy he was the leader of boys, and that characteristic followed him 
through life. He knew his power and did not hesitate to use it; the wreck- 
age thus made he attended to later, after he had won. 

Colonel Charles Shaler of Washington recalls some of Stan- 
ton's qualities : 

When in partnership with my father, in Pittsburg, it was Mr. Stanton's 
habit, as a big case came on, to shut himself up in his room over the office, 
sending down for the books and papers that he needed, and work night and 
day till his task was done. As he lighted the gas at such times, he never 
knew night from day. When he emerged he was a formidable adversary. 
In fact he was dreaded by all attorneys, and some of them were careful 
not to take cases against him. 

He studied as thoroughly against as for his clients and, as father said, 
always went into court under arms, aggressive, powerful, and destructive, 
losing sight of everything except a determination to win. He thus made 
enemies that he really did not deserve or wish, for, as a matter of fact, he 
was the most tender and kind-hearted man in the world. To me, and as I 
saw him in private intercourse, he was sweet and lovely, but I often realized 
what a rough-riding bull-dog he was when, under full headway, he con- 
tended with all his might for his clients as though life depended upon 

Thus David McGowan of Steubenville : 

After he had made a great reputation, the toughest cases naturally 
came to Stanton for defense. I recall, however, when he first began to 
practise, that he refused a very large fee offered by a criminal for defense. 
He said he could better go without money than be defeated, as he certainly 
should be. He wanted to acquire the reputation of being a winner, know- 
ing that in time such a reputation would bring fees enough. He practised 
to the full that part of the ancient oath of an English barrister which 
bound him "to make war for his clients," and he cordially agreed with 
Lord Brougham that "a lawyer's fealty to his client is above that to his 

The venerable Judge Thomas Mellon of Pittsburg analyzes 
Stanton's powers: 

Mr. Stanton's forte did not lie in formal orations or eloquent display 
of language, but in plain, clear, forcible statement and logical argument. On 
these lines he was nearly invincible; and in the examination or cross-ex- 


amination of witnesses he was remarkably successful in getting out tes- 
timony to his advantage. He asked questions in so plain and natural a 
manner as to disarm the witness of all suspicion of being led into state- 
ments favoring the examiner's theory. 

This feature of his skill resembled the precision of statement and logical 
result of a proposition in Euclid. He never became boisterous, but always 
was so audible and explicit that the court and jury and those interested in 
the case could hear and feel the force of every word he said. His speeches 
and arguments were more noted for brevity than profusion. Every ele- 
ment of his argument seemed to fit its place so well that any other con- 
clusion than that intended was precluded. 

He had another element of professional ability to a degree that was 
marvelous — preparation. In a few, brief, but pregnant questions to his 
client he could ascertain clearly the leading principles involved in the con- 
troversy and could state them and place them in the most logical position 
available for his purpose. When he once settled on a procedure it had 
to go through on the lines laid down unless defeated by invincible law or 
fact presented on the other side, and he always had his case so well pre- 
pared before going to trial that the trial more resembled the placing of the 
well-fitting parts of a complicated machine than the discussion of disputed 
facts and legal propositions. 

Of course he was successful — more so than any lawyer I ever knew. I 
believe his executive ability was beyond any limit the ordinary mind can 

Judge William Johnston of Cincinnati thus discloses Stanton's 
sympathetic heart : 

When Mr. Stanton lived in Steubenville and practised law in Pittsburg, 
passing back and forth on the river steamers, he found a man lying on the 
forward deck one evening, with a broken leg. "Why is this sufferer not at- 
tended to?" he inquired of the captain, who replied that the man lived in 
Pittsburg and would receive attention there. From a carpenter's chest he 
secured a saw and ax with which to cut splints, and, taking a sheet from a 
stateroom, set and bandaged the fracture. He then brought vinegar and 
water from the cook's room with which to steep the swollen parts, and 
during the ninety miles of the trip from Steubenville, sat by the injured man 
applying the bath. When the boat reached Pittsburg he hired a carriage 
and took his patient home. And so he was through life — great in emergen- 
cies, available when all others failed. 

Reverend Joseph Buchanan of Steubenville describes Stanton's 
habits : "' 

My friend Stanton was a man of tenderness and austerity. His own 
habits were exemplary, and he watched the morals of his son Eddie with 
steady care. I was Eddie's tutor for several years. On a certain oc- 
casion I wished him to attend some lectures and experiments in chemistry, 


but since they were to be given at night, Stanton would not allow him to 
go. He said: "Eddie's morals are paramount to all the education he can 
get." He was afraid the boy would fall in with bad company. He was a 
man of character, of immense power, who feared nothing. 

Mr. Stanton never passed a child on the street or elsewhere 
v/ithout stopping to notice it and pat it on the head. "If he learned 
that a child was unable to attend school for want of books," says 
Mrs. Davison Filson of Steubenville, "his hand went instantly into 
his pocket and the want was supplied. He completely melted in 
the presence of children. He often said that one of the sweetest 
things in the Bible is where Christ says: 'Suffer little children to 
come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of 
Heaven.' " 

Mrs. E. D. N. Southworth recalls her first glimpse of Stanton : 

In 1857, I think, I attended a reception given by Colonel John W. For- 
ney, in Washington. Two persons present attracted my attention and left 
an impress upon my mind that can never be obliterated. They were Edwin 
M. Stanton and Edwin Forrest. Forrest was famous, but I had not heard 
much of Mr. Stanton. I did little else during the evening than watch them, 
for they seemed to be the embodiment of power. They were revelations 
to me in human development. As part of the literary exercises of the 
evening, Forrest recited "The Fool and his Dead Mother" with such strange 
pathos and genius that I thought my heart would break. Near me, in a 
corner, stood Mr. Stanton; and when I dared to turn my eyes and saw tears 
streaming down his face, I felt better, and I loved him ever after. He had 
a heart and was not afraid to let the assemblage see that it was human 
and tender. All really great men have great and tender hearts. 

"Mr. Stanton always had a profound reverence for the Supreme 
Being," says Asa G. Dimmock of Cadiz, Ohio, "but at one time was 
disinclined to regard the Bible as an inspired work. Finally he took 
a copy of it into a room in his dwelling, and, turning the key, re- 
solved not to come forth until he had satisfied himself on that point. 
He continued in his room so long a time that his young wife be- 
came alarmed, fearing he was going crazy. He emerged at last 
fully satisfied that the Bible is what it purports to be, the Word of 
God, and he never thereafter doubted." 

Major A. E. H. Johnson, who associated with Stanton for a 
dozen years, says he "never heard the Secretary use an oath but 
once and that was the single expletive 'damn.' " One day an 
orderly rushed to the Secretary's house with the cry that the War 
Department was on fire. Mr. Stanton left his dinner and ran his 


team to the office, where he found a room next to his own fillea with 
fire and smudge from a pile of papers ignited by the pipe of a cer- 
tain general. "He was furious," says Major Johnson, "and, sending 
for Adjutant-General Townsend, exclaimed: 'Turn out that damn 
creature with the pipe; find quarters for him outside of the build- 
ing,' and it was done, for the old building was a tinder-box." 

Dr. William P. Johnston of Washington, who attended Mrs. 
Stanton during a serious illness in 1860, says Stanton watched by 
the bedside of his wife incessantly, tears falling when her sufferings 
were severe. "I was from the South," he says, "so when the Con- 
federate prisoners began to arrive and need medical assistance, I se- 
cured permission to attend them. From his own purse he contrib- 
uted fifty dollars to a fund to be expended by F. B. McGuire, Dr. 
Jas. C. Hall, and myself for those requiring special foods and deli- 
cacies. He was very high-minded and generous, and those Con- 
federates who really knew him permit nothing to be said about him 
that is disrespectful." 

"When I was ill, yet trying to operate my telegraph instrument 
in the War Department," says A. J. Safford of Washington, "Mr. 
Stanton sent his own physician to prescribe for me and came every 
day to my table inquiring kindly how I was getting along, and what 
I intended to do when the war closed. He was equally solicitous 
for others if they were in trouble or distress. He may have seemed 
to those who did not know him, like Cardinal Wolsey, 'lofty and 
sour' ; but to those who knew him he was 'sweet as summer.' " 

Adjutant-General Townsend remembers that soon after hostili- 
ties ceased he laid before Stanton the findings of a court-martial 
which condemned a soldier to be shot. "Usually," says the Gen- 
eral, "which fact gave commanders such great strength in the field, 
the Secretary never reversed the findings of his officers ; but this 
time he drew back in horror. 'Blood enough, blood enough,' was all 
he said, and the man was not shot." In armed conflict he was the 
ideal embodiment of aggressive ferocity, of the spirit of war, but "in 
peace shuddered at the sight or thought of blood and his heart was 
wrung by the pains and sorrows even of strangers." 

William H. Whiton, who was chief clerk in the office of Mili- 
tary Railways during the Rebellion, and knew the inner workings of 
the War Department intimately, relates this incident: 

I went to the War Office after 10 o'clock, one night, to consult Mr. 
Stanton. I found the mother, wife, and children of a soldier who had been 


condemned to be shot as a deserter, on their knees before him pleading 
for the life of their loved one. He listened standing, in cold and austere 
silence, and at the end of their heart-breaking sobs and prayers answered 
briefly that the man must die. The crushed and despairing little family 
left and Mr. Stanton turned, apparently unmoved, and walked into his 
private room. My own heart was wrung with anguish. It seemed to me 
that Mr. Stanton must be a demon — the very incarnation of cruelty and 

I was so dazed that, forgetting myself, I followed him into his office 
w^ithout rapping. I found him leaning over a desk, his face buried in his 
hands and his heavy frame shaking with sobs. "God help me to do my 
duty; God help me to do my duty!" he was repeating in a low wail of an- 
guish that I shall never forget. I quickly withdrew, but not until I had seen 
a great light. I have loved, almost reverenced Edwin M. Stanton ever since. 
His own heart perhaps was suffering more intense agony than the hearts of 
his humble petitioners, but he was compelled to steel his outward face for 
the bloody duties of war, while within, his soul was warm with sympathy 
and sorrow for its victims. 

The War Office austerity mentioned by so many was assumed 
as an unavoidable duty. He did not care to attract the public or 
create friendships ; his time could not be taken from his duties for 
personal intercourse or his judgment warped by personal affections. 
He did not joke or play or rest when there was duty to perform, 
but submerged heart and soul in a supreme effort to restore the 
Union. To Samuel Hooper, congressman from Massachusetts, he 
said in 1867 : "I have not seen a bright and happy day since I en- 
tered the cabinet and not a well day since childhood. If the pyra- 
mids were upon my heart, the load would be light compared to the 
weight of perplexity and anxiety I have to bear." 

D. Homer Bates of New York, born in Stanton's native city, a 
cipher operator and translator in the War Office from the beginning 
to the close of the Rebellion, testifies that the Secretary's austere 
and sometimes imperious official manner was a necessary armament 
of the hour. Reporting one evening at the Soldiers' Home with im- 
portant messages, he found Stanton entirely relaxed and playing on 
the grass with one of his children. "He invited me to a seat on the 
sward," says Mr. Bates, "and, after we had finished our business, 
proposed a game of 'mumble the peg,' which he entered into with 
the relish of a boy." 

Colonel J. B. Montgomery of Portland, Oregon, relates that on 
entering the War Department one day he found the Secretary "half- 
dead" with congestive asthma. "In response to my inquiry he said 
that he had made a quick journey to Ohio to surprise his aged 


mother on her birth-day, as he always felt that each one might be 
her last, and the sudden change resulted in a congestive chill. 'I 
went by night and returned by night,' said he, 'and gave mother 
great delight ; but you see the price I have to pay.' " 

William Stanton Buchanan, who knew him intimately from 
childhood, says Stanton, while very sparing in his own expenditures, 
v/as generous with his family and to the poor. "Every year scores 
of turkeys were sent by him to humble cottagers who knew no other 
Christmas bounty. He was a mastodon among his adversaries, but 
a good Samaritan among the weak and distressed. He was predis- 
posed to insanity in times of distress, but otherwise possessed a 
brain of divine clearness and power." 

An attractive picture of the real Stanton is drawn by Mrs. Gen- 
eral Rufus Saxton of Washington, as follows : 

Secretary Stanton was our guest at Beaufort, North Carolina, in Jan- 
uary, 1865. On arriving he said that fatigue would compel him to retire 
early; but after dinner, entering our bare, uncarpeted sitting-room, with 
its few dim candles but a large wood fire on the broad hearth, he sat down 
in front of the blaze and chatted brightly. Examining the books on the 
table, his face grew animated and he exclaimed: "Ah, here are old friends," 
and taking up a volume of Macaulay's poems, he turned to me, saying: "I 
know you love poetry. Pray read us something — anything. Poetry and 
this fire belong together." I read "Horatius at the Bridge," and returning 
the book to him, said: "I know you love poetry, Mr. Stanton; please read 
to us." He at once complied, reading finely "The Battle of Ivry" and other 

He was in his most genial mood. Every nerve seemed relaxed; and 
as one after another of the numerous guests departed, he still sat in front 
of the dying embers till long after midnight, repeating snatches of poetry 
or indulging in that "leisurely speech or the higher power of silence — the 
quiet evening shared by ruminating friends." 

The next morning we drove him out on the "Shell Road," where the 
live-oaks were draped with graceful gray moss, the birds singing and the 
air was soft and bland. His capacity for enjoyment seemed intense. He 
leaned back silent in the carriage, gazing at the blue sky, seeming in spirit 
to "soar with the bird and flutter with the leaf." The Titan War Secre- 
tary was replaced by the genial companion, the man of letters, the lover 
of nature — the real Stanton, who expressed again and again his rapturous 
enjoyment of the surroundings. 

Tracing his prodigious labors has developed so any surprises 
that there seems to be room for nothing additional in that line. Yet, 
considering the pressure and multiplicity of his duties, the omni- 
presence of his solicitude for those on whom the nation depended 

Stanton's Tomb, Oak Hii.i. Cemetery, 
Washington, D. C. 


for its life is indeed surprising. Whenever Lincoln moved away 
from the White House he knew of it and provided one or more 
trustworthy officers to watch and protect him ; he sent warnings to 
him by telegraph to keep away from the missiles of battle at the 
front ; he frequently advised, almost commanded Grant to avoid 
exposure to death ; while watching Lincoln's life-blood ebb away at 
midnight he lifted himself out of the confusion of the hour to tele- 
graph precautions for the safety of Grant, then en route from Phila- 
delphia to Washington ; he created time to visit or write to every 
sick or wounded officer and, when battles were in progress, stood at 
the telegraph instruments night and day urging extra energy in 
bringing away and caring for the wounded. 

His mind was literally everywhere. No dangers arose that he 
did not recognize or had not anticipated. For instance, although he 
had not slept since the night of April 13, 1865, and was concentrating 
every power of the Government and every resource of his nature to 
capture Lincoln's assassins, he still remembered his generals in the 
field, telegraphing to Hancock on April 16: "It may be useless to 
caution an old soldier like yourself to guard against surprise or dan- 
ger in holding an interview with Mosby, but the recent murders 
show such astounding wickedness that too much precaution cannot 
be taken." And to Sherman he telegraphed on the 15th : "I find 
evidence that an assassin is on your track and beseech you to be 
more heedful than Mr. Lincoln was of such knowledge." 

And thus he was throughout the war, forgetting nobody — save 
himself ! 

L. A. Somers of Cleveland describes Stanton's last visit to 

When the elections of October, 1868, which were expected to indicate 
whether General Grant would be elected president in November, were in 
progress, Mr. Stanton was the guest at Ashtabula, Ohio, of Peter H. Wat- 
son. General Anson Stager, manager of the Western Union Telegraph 
Compan}% as a compliment, strung wires so Mr. Stanton could hear the 
election returns in Mr. Watson's house. I had been an operator in the War 
Department and was sent to receive the returns, becoming also Mr. Wat- 
son's guest. 

While Mr. Stanton's face was unwrinkled and his eyes bright and 
keen, he seemed worn out and exhausted, and kept almost constantly in his 
room, breathing heavily and with great difficulty. He was very cheerful 
and affable while listening to the returns amidst fifty or sixty guests, among 
them Senator B. F. Wade, and seemed much pleased to note the increased 


Republican majorities at points where he had spoken; but he was modest, 
not posing as a great man or claiming any particular credits. 

As the wires were not removed for several days, I saw considerable of 
him. He was cheery and pleasant, free from rancor and apparently at peace 
with the world. He was inviting, kind, and considerate — in very strong con- 
trast to the aggressive engine I had seen (when an operator in the War 
Department) driving the blood-letting machinery of the war. His intellect 
was masculine and powerful, but there was something almost womanly in 
the kindly and sympathetic quality of his intercourse. He was, and I saw 
him in both situations, as sweet and gentle in private as he was unyielding 
and omnipotent in public. When I left Mr. Watson's he came out to the car- 
riage to bid me good-bye, and I never saw him again. 

"Through Mr. Stanton's hands," says General E. D. Townsend, 
"poured myriads of orders — the suspensions, promotions, dismis- 
sals, arrests, and pardons of the great Rebellion — yet he made fewer 
mistakes than any of his contemporaries, not one of whom had a 
hundredth of his duties and responsibilities." 

"The Secretary was not a man of hasty judgment," says Gen- 
eral T. M. Vincent, who knew him from childhood, "and he did not 
make mistakes, never a serious mistake. He acted quickly, but he 
possessed the capacity to do so, and he knew the details of the enor- 
mous operations of the War Department so perfectly that generally 
his acts required no premeditation. He swept throvigh the volumi- 
nous volunteer code, revamping and amending it, in fifteen minutes, 
and it stands to this day a fine example of comprehension and per- 

Colonel John W. Forney thus describes Stanton : 1 

He thought quickly and wrote strongly. He could give the keynote 
for a campaign, which, sounded in the columns of a newspaper, would thrill 
a continent. It will be years before his biography can be written or his 
measure taken. He died with a reputation that will live as long as our 
liberties, and yet with less available incident to delineate his great deeds 
than has ever fallen to the lot of any public man. The mere statement of 
a fact so uncommon is the best portrait of Edwin M. Stanton. His ex- 
ample is stamped over the whole volume of the war. It was infused into the 
cabinet; it fired the armies; it uplifted the people; it made integrity the road 
to honor in civil as it did valor in military life; it taught the public man 
the great lesson of disinterestedness; it shamed the aspirant for office into 
self-sacrifice and by its own complete surrender to country, made patriotism 
a vital element of the nation's strength. 

Albert Gallatin Riddle draws this vivid picture : 

Up-stairs in a dingy office on Seventeenth Street throbbed and worked 
the heart and brain, the mighty main-spring that drove with terrible energy 


the gigantic machinery of the war; and there never was a time under the 
severest pressure, that there did not still lie unemployed in the man energy 
and power enough to propel the governmental machinery of the civilized 
world. Men say that he was rough. Of course he was. He was a primal 
force of nature, used to break up the old crust of the earth, throw up new 
mountains and change the configuration of a continent. I fancy him in 
twilight solitude, by some sounding sea, quarrying a mountain, and throw- 
ing up a giant's causeway in a single night! 

The extinction of the Rebellion by force — that was his task, and no 
fateful destiny ever moved more inexorably than he in its performance. 
He could see and hear and know nothing else; whatever would help he used, 
and whatever would hinder was ruthlessly thrust by; nothing could deter or 
divert. Though the earth wavered like a storm-tossed sea, he stood firm; 
though it was covered with dead men, he saw them not; though the bosom 
of the storm discharged fire and blood and gobbets of human flesh, he 
seemed unconscious of it. 

Mr. Riddle's hyperbolical description contains much truth. If 
the Rebellion had been a contest with a foreign foe and Stanton, in 
health, had been sustained by the whole people united and enthusi- 
astic, how glorious, how unapproachable, would have been his 
achievements ! 

While no study of Stanton's character has been complete, all 
who have made an examination of his qualities without prejudice 
agree that he was a human Gibraltar. But even Gibraltar shakes 
when the earthquake comes. When his wife Mary died in 1844, his 
passionate grief was so deep and terrible that, for two or three days, 
his mind was unbalanced ; and so it was, in a lesser degree, when 
his brother Darwin died by his own hand in 1845. In July, 1862, 
when General McClellan sent word by his father-in-law that unless 
he could have "immediate relief" and be free from orders and control 
from Washington, he should surrender his armies to Lee, Stanton, 
having a dying child in his house, was swayed mightily. 

For a moment his soul wavered (though the world could not 
possibly suspect it) when Lincoln fell by the hand of an assassin. 
That blow, upsetting the plans of years, swept away the masts, sails, 
anchors, and compasses and compelled him to make a new beginning 
of the Federal fabric, himself a wreck, upon a mass of wreckage. 

However, nothing checked him. He was always busy, always 
pushing. He utilized every moment, realizing that just ahead, at 
a fixed spot almost in sight, was the end, the grave ; and he knew, 
therefore, that the greatest success would come to him who wasted 
the fewest moments. 


As he squandered no time, so he wasted no words. In the War 
Office the single word "rebel" was all he ever used to designate the 
secessionists, no matter whether inditing a gazette or composing a 
bill to be enacted into a law by Congress. This habit of employing 
condensed phrases and shot-like sentences made his writings and 
utterances seem dramatic, yet they were merely direct, powerful, 
time-saving, natural. 

He loved intensely, planned to win, believed he was right, and 
was impatient of delay. He thought that sweeping away all ob- 
stacles in a direct line to success was just, and, being a man of per- 
ception and comprehension, foresaw conclusions and results where 
others were compelled to grope to them. To him all things were 
clear and in the War Office the time was war time ; therefore he 
used concentrated and emphatic expressions which, in this less in- 
tense and sensational day, seem vehement or extravagant. His 
blows were like the strokes of the weaver's beam ; every impact was 
felt to the center. 

He wanted fighting everywhere, by everybody, all the time. 
As he was always strung up to push, to rush the war, he could not 
fully relax when he turned aside suddenly to indite a letter or issue 
a bulletin, but unconsciously fused these lesser communications by 
the terrible intensity of his processes into the bolts he was accus- 
tomed to use in the War Office. 

It is noticeable that, so far as known, no member of the Lin- 
coln or Johnson cabinets save Salmon P. Chase ever spoke kindly 
or favorably of Stanton. Of course not. They hated him. He was 
too big for them — a great, brainy bull-dog in the cabinet and an ir- 
resistible force in the War Office. They felt dwarfed by his over- 
mastering character and jealous of the power and influence that na- 
turally flowed from as well as toward him. They were too little to 
see as he saw, to comprehend as he comprehended; too weak to 
strike the lesser anvils of their duties in unison with the tremendous 
blows that he dealt day and night to the enemies of his country ; too 
shallow to brush aside, as he did on great occasions, the gathering 
cycles of time and reach futurity at a single bound. 

Such men make enemies as well as victories. Others were car- 
ried forward by the gale ; Stanton was the gale itself. His colossal 
work, pursued with masterful energy night and day, was wrath- 
provoking. Those who sued for favors, those who wanted special 
privileges and those who desired to modify the war policy of the 


Government or break the rules of the military establishment for 
their own benefit, were swept off their feet and out of sight. If they 
ever reappeared, it was as critics and enemies of the giant who was 
striving for his people at a time when every day was a year and 
every act a foundation-stone in the nation's history. 

He was always great when others were little. Disaster and 
opposition but roused the mightier measures of his power, and when 
others were defeated and depressed, he was puissant, supreme. 
Standing in the narrow gorge of the War Office, he heroically 
stemmed the headlong stream of tremendous events, successfully di- 
rected the burning wheels of national wrath and fixed the destiny 
of freedom in the New World, Full of the spirit of power, he ever 
bore with him the conscience of his fight, and one day will, 

Like some tall clifif that rears its awful form, 
Swells from the vale and midway meets the storm, 

be the most majestic figure of the century. 

The Republic is his monument; the Rebellion is his biography. 


It was snowing and blustering on the day Stanton was born — 
December 19, 1814; blowing and drifting on the evening of his mar- 
riage — December 31, 1836; sleeting and gusty on the day his wife 
Mary was buried — March, 1844; dangerously tempestuous during 
his ocean trip to California in 1858 ; snowing and drifting when he 
was summoned from Pittsburg to a place in Buchanan's cabinet in 
December, 1860 ; blowing a gale when he was selected to be secre- 
tary of war in Lincoln's cabinet in January, 1862 ; snow-squalling 
and boisterous when, just a week later, he took the cabinet minis- 
ter's oath of office ; cyclonic the night he steamed down the Chesa- 
peake to capture Norfolk and sink the Mcrrimac in May, 1862 ; rainy 
and stormy when President Grant selected him to be an associate 
justice of the United States Supreme Court in December, 1869 ; 
witheringly cold and windy when (December 20) he arose from the 
sick-bed to go to the White House to thank Grant in person for the 
honor thus conferred upon him ; sleeting and storming on the night 
of his death (December 24, 1869) and cold, foggy, drizzling, and 
gloomy on the day of his burial — December 27, 1869. 

Every hour of his public service — Prosecuting-Attorney of Har- 
rison County, Ohio ; Public Prosecutor of Steubenville ; Govern- 
ment Attorney in the enormous California land frauds ; Attorney- 
General in Buchanan's cabinet ; Secretary of War under Lincoln 
and Secretary of War under Johnson — was a contest with the ene- 
mies of his country and of society. 

He was racked by asthma from childhood ; denounced and as- 
sailed incessantly during his entire career as Secretary of War; 
crowded out of office after a stormy but patriotic struggle in which 
he prevented President Johnson from seizing the army, shackling 
Congress, and renewing the war; and, then, worn out, poor, and 
broken-hearted, laid down to die. 

After life's fitful fever, he sleeps well. 


Ableman vs. Booth, 135. 

Adams, C. F., 285. 

Adams Express Co., 244. 

Adams, J. E., 85. 

Alabama, 97, 102, 316. 

Alameda, 72. 

Albany, 87, 245. 

Alexandria, 149, 174, 175, 176, 177, 
178, 349, 402. 

Allegheny, Arsenal, 84. 

Allegheny, County, 53. 

Allison, W. R., 345. 

Amendment (Trumbull) of Consti- 
tution, 21. 

Ames, E. R., 229, 371, 372. 

Anderson, Lewis, 22. 

Anderson, Robert, 85, 86, 87, 92, 
93, 94, 95, 96, 98, 274, 275. 

Andersonville, 233, 236, 238. 

Andrew, John A., 135, 136, 137, 405. 

Andrews, Colonel, 242. 

Andrews, E. P., 61. 

Andrews House, 39, 79. 

Andrews, John, 359. 

Annapolis, 234. 

Antietam, 191, 192, 232. 

Appomattox, 263, 379. 

Aquia Creek, 173, 174. 

Arkansas, 232, 316, 354. 

Army, Confederate (see Confed- 

Army, Corps Sixth, 388. 

Army of Northern Virginia, 273. 

Army of the Cumberland, 21, 203, 
204, 207, 226, 349. 

Army of the James, 222, 395. 

Army of the Potomac, 140, 142, 149, 
158, 171, 172, 176, 179, 193, 194, 
199, 203, 222, 227, 352, 357, 378, 

Army of the Tennessee, 395. 

Army of the West, 142. 

Arnold, Samuel, 286, 287. 

Arsenal, Allegheny, 84. 

Arsenal, Indianapolis, 251. 

Ashley, J. M., 187, 190, 312, 313, 
339, 403, 404. 

Ashtabula, 313, 399, 412, 421. 

Aspinwall, W. H., 180, 193. 

Asthma, 27, 31, 45, 73, 324, 395, 400, 

419, 426. 
Atlantic and Ohio Telegraph Co., 

Atlantic, Department of the, 331. 

Bates, Edward, 119, 177, 271. 

Black, J. S., 67. 

Speed, Jas., 287, 303. 

Stanbery, Henry, 316, 317, 340. 

Stanton, E. M., 19, 82, 87, 88, 93, 
98, 112, 385, 426. 
Atzerot, G. B., 286. 
Augur, C. C, 279. 
Augusta, A. T., 189. 

Badeau, Adam, 305, 368, 380. 

Baglioli, 73. 

Baker, L. C, 255, 281, 294. 

Baldwin, G. W., 222. 

Balls' Bluff, 135. 

Baltic, The, 107. 

Baltimore, 36, 96, 115, 152, 166, 

201, 277, 287, 342, 346, 352, 356, 

362, 371, 372, 391, 409. 
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, 281, 

354, 356. 
Baltimore Patriot, 96. 
Baltimore Sun, 193. 

Parmers' and Mechanics', 32. 

Harrison National, 34. 

National Metropolitan, 344. 

Of Pittsburg, 24, 353. 

Of Steubenville, 36. 

Of the United States, 43. 

Riggs and Co., 344. 
Banks, N. P., 150, 203, 232, 382, 401. 
Barlow, S. L. M., 116, 121, 122, 123, 

130, 197, 391. 
Barnard, J. C, 138, 139. 
Barnes, Dr., 46. 

Barnes, J. K., 143, 282, 283, 294, 
310, 365, 403, 408, 409, 411, 412. 
Barnwell, R. W., 85, 87, 94. 
Bat, The, 261. 
Batcheler, C. W., 55. 
Bates, D. H., 217, 219, 222, 419. 
Bates, Edward, 119, 177. 
Baton Rouge, 339. 

Battles and Leaders of the Civil 

War, 121, 180. 
Battle of 

Antietam, 192, 232. 

Balls' Blufif, 135. 

Bull Run, 109, 366. 

Fort Donelson, 384. 

Gettysburg, 142. 

Island No. 10, 371. 

Manassas, 386. 

Pea Ridge, 371. 

Pittsburg Landing, 371. 

Shiloh, 143, 368. 

South Mountain, 192. 

Vicksburg, 384. 
Baxter, Mr., 387. 
Beatty, Mrs. Hetty, 23. 
Beaufort, N. C, 25, 420. 
Beauregard, P. T., 110, 395. 
Beckwith, S. H., 220. 
Beecher, H. W., 212, 274, 371. 
Belknap, W. W., 409. 
Bell, John, 80. 
Belle Isle, 233. 
Bellows. H. W., 371. 
Benjamin, J. P., 229, 242. 
Bennett, James Gordon, 108, 109. 
Bible, The, 22, 24, 48, 76, 373, 396, 

Bingham, J. A., 286, 340. 
Black, J. S., 60, 67, 70, 82, 83, 89, 

90, 93, 94, 97, 101, 106, 131, 132, 

303, 320, 322, 326, 331, 332, 340, 

Blackhorse Squadron, 280. 
Blaine, J. G., 140. 
Blair, F. P., 149, 257, 298, 367. 
Blair, Montgomery, 117, 119, 123, 

178, 212, 255, 303, 320, 367, 392. 
Blake, J. B., 344. 
Blenker, Louis, 138. 
Bodine, W. B., 349. 
Booth, J. Wilkes, 264, 276, 277, 278, 

285, 286. 
Boston, 188, 294, 324. 
Bowie, Miss, 408. 
Boyce, W. M., 103. 
Boyle, J. T., 204. 
Brady, J. T., 215, 242. 
Bragg, Braxton, 232. 
Bridgeport, Conn., 286. 
Brisbane (Brisbin). John S., 309. 
British (see England). 
Breckinridge, John C, 80, 263, 267. 
Bronson, Rev. S. A., 28. 
Brooklyn, The, 93, 99, 131. 
Brooks, W. T. H., 198. 
Brough, Gov. John, 244, 356, 367. 
Brougham, Lord, 415. 
Brown, John, 102. 
Brown, Mrs. Warner, 22. 
Brown, Samuel M., 217. 
Brown, Wm., 45, 

Buchanan, Jas., 19, 20, 60, 67, 73, 
82, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 
93, 94, 95, 98, 99, 100, 102, 103, 
105, 108, 111, 112, 117, 131, 254, 
284, 316, 359, 385, 391, 426. 

Buchanan, Jas., Jr., 68, 72. 

Buchanan, The Rev. E. Y., 68. 

Buchanan, The Rev. Geo., 22, 23, 

Buchanan, The Rev. Joseph, 23, 39, 

Buchanan, Wm. Stanton, 38, 39, 51, 
79, 144, 402, 420. 

Buchanan's Defense, 108. 

Buckalew, C. R., 343. 

Buckner, S. B., 130. 

Buell, M. V. B., 222. 

Bull Run, Battle of, 109, 366. 

Burgoyne, W. R., 276. 

Burlington, 254, 279, 282. 

Burnett, H. L., 286. 

Burnett, Mayor, 163. 

Burns, Robert, 40. 

Burnside, A. E., 147, 152, 173, 194, 
204, 382. 

Butler, Benjamin F., 20, 89, 139, 
144, 148, 152, 182, 186, 231, 234, 
242, 254, 297, 340, 362, 363, 364, 

Butler, Colonel, 363, 364. 

Butler, "General, in New Orleans," 

Butler. Mayor, 163. 

Cabell, Mary Virginia Ellet, 164. 
Cadiz, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 40, 42, 385, 

Cady, J., 34. 
Cady, Wm., 34. 
Caldwell, A. H., 222. 
Calhoun, Fort, 382. 
Calhoun, J. C, 27. 
California, 20, 60, 65, 67, 71, 72, 80, 

107, 118, 131, 426. 
California Land Cases, 66, 67, 72, 

80, 426. 
Campbell, John A., 107, 108, 112, 

269, 271. 
Canada, 131, 240, 250, 254, 285, 359, 

Canadian Rebellion, 293. 
Canal and Railway Cases, State of 

Pennsylvania, 20. 
Canby, E. R. S., 242, 243. 
Cape Cod, 324, 403. 
Caribbean Sea, 68. 
Carlisle, J. M., 74. 
Carlisle, Ohio, 198, 396. 
Carpenter, M. H., 326, 327, 405, 406, 

Carpenter's "Six Months in the 

White House," 259, 345, 385, 

Carroll Prison, 294, 370. 

CarroUton, 40, 42. 

Lartter, D. K., 280, 335, 409. 

Cass, Lewis, 53, 54, 82, 83. 

Chalmers, Jas. R., 235. 

Chambersburg, 198, 199. 

Chancellorsville, 210. 

Chandler, A. B., 217, 219, 222. 

Chandler, Zachariah, 405, 409. 

Chapman, G. T., 412. 

Charleston, 68, 82, 83, 84, 86, 91, 

92, 93, 99, 102, 238, 275. 
Chase, Philander, 27, 28. 
Chase, Salmon P., 116, 119, 123, 

127, 141, 154, 155, 169, 172, 177, 

179, 182, 185, 194, 203, 211, 281, 

340, 343, 353, 359, 361, 368, 393, 

405, 424. 
Chattahoochie Bridge, 227. 
Chattanooga, 21, 203, 204, 205, 227, 

232, 389. 
Chesapeake Bay, 154, 158, 426. 
Chicago, 79, 143, 187, 210, 254, 412. 
Chickamauga, 203, 207, 348, 381. 
Chronicle, The, 341. 

Catholic, 51. 

Episcopal, 66, 103, 373. 

Methodist, 67, 372, 373. 

Of the Disciples, 375. 
Cincinnati, 43, 51, 62, 79, 162, 163, 

196, 252, 371, 399, 416. 
Circle of Hosts, 249, 250. 

City Point, 231, 257, 258, 261, 262. 

City Solicitor, 46. 

Civil Rights Bill, 307. 

Clarke, R. W., 337. 

Clay, C. C, 360. 

Clemson, Mrs., 24. 

Cleveland, 48, 60, 79, 147, 206, 218, 

267, 309, 310, 350, 384, 395, 400, 

402, 421. 
Clingman, T. L., 83. 
Cobb, Howell, 260. 
Cochrane, John, 115, 392. 
Colburn, A. V., 193. 
Cole, Chas. D., 144. 
Cole, Nathan, 144. 
Colfax, Schuyler, 336, 405, 406, 409, 
Collier, D. L., 27, 28, 30, 31. 
Colorado, 315. 
Columbus, Nebraska, 34. 
Columbus, Ohio, 30, 31, 32, 33, 37, 

38, 50, 251, 253, 359, 385. 
Cameron, Simon, 114, 115, 116, 117, 

119, 122, 123, 127, 129, 135, 136, 

197, 201, 216, 341, 400. 
Commander-in-Chief, (General-in- 
Chief, etc.) 

Grant, U. S., 342, 386. 

Halleck, H. W., 173, 180, 194, 201, 

Lincoln, Abraham, 138, 171, 270. 

McClellan, G. B., 124, 126, 195. 
Stanton, E. M., 140, 141. 

Commissioners for the Relief of 
Prisoners, 229. 

Commissioners Peace, 257, 258. 

Commissioners, Pa. Railway and 
Canal, 60. 

Commissioners, Secession, 85, 80, 
87, 88, 91,